1815 - 1903 (87 years)
||John Ira JENNINGS |
- John Ira Jennings - a short biography
Born: July 1815, Danby, Tompkins County, New York
Died: 27 March 1903, Warrior District, Lizella, Bibb County, Georgia
Uncle Ira's Mail Bag
Ira Jennings wrote a column in The Macon Telegraph in the 1890's called "Uncle Ira?s Mail Bag". It was about happenings in the Warrior District (Lizella) where they lived.
Some of the writings are as follows:
The Macon Telegraph
Thursday 4 July 1890
Uncle Ira's Mail Bag
Haps and Mishaps:
Protracted meeting will begin at Bethel Church Sunday July 27.
The Praise service at Midway Church last week was a very enjoyable success.
On the first Sunday in September there will be a foot washing at Mount Paran Church.
The chain gang is camped at the Thunder Pond graveyard on Columbus Road.
Last Thursday a Revenue Officer arrested James Long of Sandy Point for illicit distilling.
On last Saturday Si Ywrn?s pack caught and killed another red fox in an hours run.
While plowing last week the horse of Wm. Bryant dropped dead in the harness from overheating.
On the first Friday in July a protracted meeting begins at Mount Paron Church near McElmurray's in Crawford County.
On the second Sunday in August there will be foot washing at Mt. Shiloh Church seven miles from Macon on the Columbus Road.
On Friday last W. Hodges and family who moved some time since from Warrior to Macon returned to Warrior to bury their little boy in the Wootson burial ground. The child died in Macon June 26.
The Macon Telegraph
August 13, 1890
Uncle Ira's Mail Bag
Items of interest from the Warrior District of Bibb County.
Charles Hamblin and Miss Ella McCardel whose serious illness has been mentioned before are improving.
Mr. Reuben Tidwell is not any better but it is feared is growing worse.
Mr. Robert Yates has bought a piece of the Burnett property, and is building a nice residence on it.
Mr. Martin Toole has moved his sawmill back to the Warrior District.
The Columbus road near McElmurray's mill needs working very badly.
Doles Church (Methodist) in the Hazzard District has had a division. One faction of the members has withdrawn, and is building a church of its own near the high school.
Macon Telegraph & News
Saturday, March 28, 1903
UNCLE IRA JENNINGS DIES
Oldest Stage Driver in America Lived in the Warrior
"Uncle Ira's Mail Bag" For Years Furnished Good Stories for Readers of the News
--An interesting Character Has Passed Away
Uncle Ira Jennings is said to have carried the first United States mail that was ever delivered in Georgia. He was the oldest living stage driver in America. He died at the home of his sister (1) in the Warrior District last night. A large number of his friends will go out from Macon tomorrow morning to attend the funeral at Peron Church on the line of Bibb and Crawford Counties.
Mr. Jennings was 88 years old. He came to Macon about seventy years ago as a stage driver, which business he followed until railroads took the place of the stage coaches. He married Miss Elizabeth Newsom, daughter of Mr. Henry Newsom of the Warrior District. Mrs. Jennings died about ten years ago. They reared a family of six children as follows: Messers W. H., B. F., and Theo Jennings and Mrs. R. E. Jones, Mrs. Elizabeth Hollomon and Miss Martha Ellen Jennings.
Mr. Jennings was one of the most interesting characters in this section of the country. He was born in Ithaca, New York (2) and in his boyhood days he became a stage driver, and followed the advance of the stage coach into the West and Southern countries until he reached Georgia. Here he drove from Augusta to Macon and from Macon to Columbus and sometimes went as far as Montgomery. On some of his long journeys he has had as passengers the country's most distinguished men. The history of the United States would not be entirely complete without mention of the parts his stage coaches played in some of the thrilling events of earlier times.
Among the old citizens who delight to relate antecdotes of Mr. Jennings in his early youth is Mr. Henry Westcott, father of Sheriff Westcott. Mr. Westcott says "when I first knew Uncle Ira he was a stage coach driver and he could crack a whip after a fashion that captured a boys heart. I was learning the harness trade in Macon at the time and he used to give me lessons in how to plait a whip so as to make it crack loud".
"Uncle ira's Mail Bag" was the heading that the News ran for a long time over the contributions of the veteran stage driver and mail carrier from the Warrior. He had a keen sense of news and never missed an opportunity to give information for the benefit of the public when a news item came his way. He was the carrier of the mail on the Star Route through the Warrior for years.
(1) Ira Jennings was born in Danby, Tompkins County, New York which is immediately adjacent to Ithaca, New York.
(2) He died at the home of his daughter, Espy R (Jennings) Jones, not his sister.
Paper (name and date unknown)
Many of Macon's present citizens will remember Uncle Ira Jennings of the Warrior district, a unique character in his way. In his early days he drove the stage from New York to Macon, the first stop in Macon being at the Washington Hall, and the next stop at the Pealiquer where the horses could be given a good feed and rest.
The baggage of the passengers of the stage line was carried in what was called the boot, a compartment covered with leather for protection during rains and sometimes used to bring light freight or valuable packages - it was the rumble-seat of those
days, though never used by passengers to ride in because of its cramped quarters.
It was not until the railroads - the Central to Savannah and the Monroe to Atlanta and soon thereafter the Georgia to Augusta, that the stages were taken off the roads and Uncle Ira settled down on a farm in the Warrior district, and began to exercise the knowledge of politics he had acquired in his native state of New York and became a boss.
For many years he reigned, this stately old stage-coach driver, the political boss of Bibb county and no man could be found to run for office, from coroner to governor, without his first having an interview with uncle Ira. Everybody liked and at the same time feared him. In his way he was the last of the Mohicans, the last of the rough and rowdy old-timers and knew Macon and Bibb county as a book.
Many were the good stories told by him of the early days and people of Macon and Bibb County, expecially concerning the elections in which he played an important and generally always a winning part. To the newspaper boys he was a never failing source of good stories and which he delighted to tell
John Ira Jennings was born in July 1815 in Danby, Tompkins County, New York. He married Elizabeth L. Newsom on the 5th of December 1839.
Elizabeth was born in 1818 in Georgia, and died 5th February 1891. She was the daughter of Henry Newsom and Elizabeth Potts.
John and Elizabeth had seven children.
Madison P Jennings was born about 1842 in Bibb County Georgia and died 17th June 1864 at age 22 from chronic illness contracted during military service in the Civil War. He was a member of the 30th Regiment, Company D, Huguenin Rifles from September 25,1861 until his admission into Ocmulgee Hospital at Macon, Georgia on March 3, 1864 where he subsequently died.
William H Jennings was born in 1844 in Bibb County Georgia. He joined the 30th Regiment, Company D, Huguenin Rifles on September 25,1861 at the age of 17. He was captured at Nashville, Tennessee on December 16,1864 and released at Camp Chase, Ohio on June 12,1865.
Benjamin F Jennings was born in May 1848 in Bibb County Georgia. He joined the 30th Regiment, Company D, Huguenin Rifles in June 1863 at the age of 15. He apparently lied about his age in order to be accepted as his military records indicate that he was born in 1845. He was hospitalized in Atlanta Georgia and subsequently sent to hospital in Macon, Georgia in July 1864 with lung trouble and a carbuncle on right hip. He did not return to command.
Epsy Rilla S Jennings was born November 1849 in Bibb County Georgia. She married William Russell Jones born in Bibb County, Georgia about 1846. Espy?s sister, Martha Ellen Jennings, married William?s brother, Thomas Henry Jones.
Epsy and William had five children.
Ida Elizabeth Jones born about 1872
Martha (Mattie) Lee Jones born about 1875
Hiram J Jones born March 1879
Franklin Jones born January 1880
E. F. Jones born May 1882
Elizabeth L Jennings was born about 1851.
Theodore Jennings was born August 1853 in Georgia. He married Julia about 1878. Julia was born in August 1863 and they had eight children.
Oscar Jennings born in February 1882
Hattie Jennings born in January 1884
Cuff Jennings born in March 1886
Samuel Jennings born in February 1888
J T Jennings born in November 1889
Oge (?) Jennings born in August 1891
T Jennings born in August 1893
Clarence Jennings born in August 1899
Martha Ellen Jennings was born August 1855 in Georgia. She married Thomas Henry Jones in about 1880. Thomas was born 23 April 1844 in Bibb County, Georgia. Martha?s sister, Epsy, married Thomas? brother, William Russell Jones.
Martha and Thomas had nine children.
Laurence Jones born in 1881
Walter Arthur Jones born in 1885
Sallie Blanny Jones born August 1886 and died 1959. Sallie married Paul Dean Johnson and had four children.
William Guy Jones born July 1887
Clara Bell Jones born November 1888
Wyatt Russell Jones born February 1891 married Maggie Hartness and had three children
Connie Elizabeth Jones born July 1894
Alma Claude Jones born October 1896 married Jake C McCommon
Ira Henry Jones born October 1898
BIBB COUNTY, GA - DEEDS
Henry Newsom to Ira Jennings
Bibb County Superior Court
Deed Book Vol. No. P
Dates 1857 to 1860
Page No. 913 and 914
Recorded 27th February 1860 State of Georgia Bibb County
This indenture made the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty between Henry Newsom of the aforesaid county and state of the first part, and Ira Jennings of the same place of the second part: Witnesseth that the said Henry Newsom for and in consideration of the sum of six hundred dollars taken in hand paid by the said Ira Jennings, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged does by these presents give, grant, bargain, sell and convey unto the said Ira Jennings, his heirs and assigns a certain lot of land number one hundred and eighty lying in originally Houston now Bibb County and adjoining the land of Jonathan Woodson on the south and Josiah Pender on the east and others continuing two hundred or ---that may be entitled to by English Deed of Lot No. 179 acres more or less with all the privileges thereby in anywise appertaining.
To have and to hold the above granted premises to the said Ira Jennings, his heirs and assigns, in fee simple and the said Henry Newsom will and his heirs and--- and administrators shall the said property to the said Ira Jennings his heirs executors administrators forever warrant and defend against the lawful demands of all persons whatever. In testimony whereof the said Henry Newsom has hereto set his hand and seal this day and year above written.
Signed Sealed and Delivered in presence of Henry Newsom (LS) Miles N. Young
Laurence Jones, JP
Recorded 27th February 1860
The Daily Constitution
December 4, 1880
Last Saturday night a serious affray occurred in the Warrior district, the particulars of which we learn from Mr. Ira Jennings, the father of Mr. B. F. Jennings who was seriously wounded. It seems that there had been a feud between a branch of the Jennings and Holly family, and in a former difficulty the Hollys had gotten the worst of it. On the evening mentioned, Jennings who was intoxicated so as to be hardly able to stand, was assaulted by Mr. ?Pig? Holly and Sam Dorothy. The latter cut him in three places about the head, and the former shot him with a Smith& Wesson 32-calibre pistol. The ball entered just above the heart and was extracted from under the left shoulder blade. It is impossible to tell whether the bullet went through or around the body. The wounded man lies in a critical condition. Holly and Dorothy have disappeared. We know nothing of the facts, but give the account as given us by Mr. Jennings.
Extracted From US Federal Census Records
The following tables trace the progression of Ira Jennings and his children from 1860. Each Census was taken in the Warrior District, Bibb County Georgia and are attached as Annexure 1 through 5.
Note that by 1880, Ira?s daughter Espy had married William Russell Jones and they had four children. Their fifth child was born in May 1882.
By 1900, Espy had become head of the household with two children remaining at home. Ira, who was 84 at the time, was living with Espy and, according to Census Records was still working as a US Mail Carrier. Espy?s brother, Ben, also lived with them.
Ira died on 27 March 1903 and was living with Espy at the time.
US Federal Census
1-Sep 6-Jul 4-Jun
1860 1870 1880
Age Age Age
Ira Jennings Head 41 55 64
Elizabeth Wife 41 54 61
Madison P Son 18
William H Son 16
Benjamin F Son 14 21 34
Espy R S Daughter 12
Elizabeth L Daughter 9 19
Theodore Son 6 17
Martha E Daughter 4 15
US Federal Census
1860 1870 1880
Age Age Age
William R Jones Head 34
Espy R Wife 32
Ida E Daughter 8
Martha L Daughter 5
Hiram J Son 2
Franklin Son 6/12
US Federal Census
1860 1870 1880 1900
Age Age Age Age Born
Espy R Jones Head 50 Nov 1849
Ida E Daughter
Martha L Daughter
Hiram J Son 21 Mar 1879
Elex F Son 18 May 1882
Ira Jennings Father 84 July 1815
Ben Jennings Brother 52 May 1848
Reconciliation Of Birth Dates
US Federal Census
1-Sep 6-Jul 4-Jun 8-Jun
1860 1870 1880 1900
Age Age Age Age Born
Ira Jennings Head 41 55 64 84 July 1815 Actual 1900 Census
Elizabeth Wife 41 54 61 Oct 1818 Estimated
Madison P Son 18 1842 Estimated
William H Son 16 1844 Estimated
Benjamin F Son 14 21 34 52 May 1848 Actual 1900 Census
Espy R S Daughter 12 50 Nov 1849 Actual 1900 Census
Elizabeth L Daughter 9 19 1851 Estimated
Theodore Son 6 17 Aug 1853 Estimated
Martha E Daughter 4 15 Aug 1855 Estimated
||15 Jul 1815
||Danby, Tompkins Co., NY [1, 2]
||27 Mar 1903
||Warrior District, Lizella, GA
||Mt. Paran Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Crawford County, Georgia
- Mt. Paron Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery is located in
Crawford County, Georgia just over the county line from Bibb
County on U.S. 80, between Lizella, Ga. and Macon, Ga, on the bank of Echeconnee creek.
The church is no longer called Mt. Paron Primitive Baptist Church, but is now named Bethany Bible Chapel.
The Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) reading for this location is 32 degrees 47.905N, 083 degrees 52.153W 421ft.
- THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
Sunday, January 26, 1890 UNCLE IRA
The Career of an Old Stage Driver One of the Last Relics of a Forgotten Mode of Locomotion
Macon, Ga., January 25. - [Special.] - "Uncle Ira" Jennings, the veteran stage driver, and, perhaps, the oldest star route mail rider in the United States in point of years of continuous service, resides in Bibb county, Ga. He is known as the old democratic war horse of the warrior district. He has rode presidents of this glorious republic, senators, governors and other distinguished men in his coach; he has been the custodian of valuable documents of state and thousands of dollars in money; he has reigned autocrat in his bailiwick, and his nod of approval has elected legislators and many county officials. His frown has blasted the hopes of many aspiring politicians, and his smile has raised many to the pinnacle of fame. He has lived passed man's allotted three score years and ten; his life has been full of thrilling experiences and interesting adventures; he has many times narrowly escaped death. Sickness is something unknown to his body. He has always been active, full of energy and spirit. But now in the sunset of his life, he has been visited by a sore affliction, and for the first time in about three months of a century the tireless feet must remain idle, and the industrious hands must keep still.
"Uncle Ira Jennings is blind."
Such was the announcement made in Macon ten days ago, and there were many expressions of regret as the information was imparted. It was a pitiful sight to see the gray-haired old man who has always been independent of everybody led by the hand about the streets by his little grandson and namesake.
Six years ago a cataract formed over his right eye rendering him totally blind. It spread over the entire ball.
He never cared much for this as the vision of the left eye was perfectly good, and has continued his duties of mail riding without annoyance until the middle of last December, when he found to his dismay that the sight of the left eye was becoming obstructed by a cataract. Gradually the defect of vision became worse, until about two weeks ago, when he had to retire from active service in Uncle Sam's employ, for the first time in about sixty years. During his temporary retirement, however, he has a substitute to carry the daily mail from Macon to Knoxville, Crawford county, a distance of twenty-five miles, and over a route on which he first commenced to take the mails in June, 1834, nearly fifty-six years ago.
Last Thursday week "Uncle Ira" went to the Hotel Lanier and was assigned to room No. 6 by Manager Crawford, to whom "Uncle Ira" had been selling eggs, butter and vegetables over five years. Dr. R O. Cotter performed a successful operation in cutting the cataract of the right eye and enabling the veteran to see out of it for the first time in six years. With that same fortitude and heroism that have marked his entire life, "Uncle Ira" refused to be chloroformed while the operation was being performed, and he bore the surgeon's knife without flinching, or the tremor of a muscle. In this room he has since remained an unwilling prisoner. His eye is bandaged so as to keep the light out of the cut member until it has healed. How impatient must be this free spirit that has lived outdoors all his life, and been accustomed to the sunshine and the storm. How he must long to see once more the green trees and the golden fields of ripening harvest. Later he will have the cataract on the left eye removed.
"Uncle Ira" gave the Constitution's representative most cordial greeting when he called to see him today in his room at the Hotel Lanier. The old man's eyes were bandaged, but he held out his hand, as one in the darkness, and gave The Constitution's hand a warm clasp.
"Uncle Ira" was born July 15th, 1815, at Danby, Tompkins county, New York, on the Ithaca and Owego turnpike. He is, therefore, in his seventy-fifth year. He weighs 150 pounds, is five feet four inches high. He is strong and tough as an ox. He has never been sick a day in his life, though he has been storm-tossed and weather-beaten like some ancient mariner. He has a kindly countenance and a generous and genial nature, full of fun and anecdote. He believes in the principles of the Hardshell Baptists. He commenced his stage and mail driving career in 1831, when he drove a four-in-hand coach from Owego, in Tinga county, N.Y., on the Susquehanna river, to Ithaca, in Tompkins county, N.Y., head of Cuyahoga lake, a distance of twenty-nine miles. He carried passengers and the United States mails. In about a year the stage line was discontinued for a wooden railway.
The body of "Uncle Ira" stage was taken off the wheels and put on the wheels of the wooden railroad and he was the first man to drive on this road. The wheels of the road were made of planks and they rolled on stringers. Passengers and mails were carried in the coach. The coach was pulled by two horses driven tandem.
In 1832 he drove a stage from Binghampton to Owego. It was pulled by four large, swift, elegant gray horses. "Uncle Ira" says he frequently drove one mile in four minutes.
I asked "Uncle Ira" who was the most distinguished personages he ever drove in his coach.
He replied: "I have had the honor and pleasure of driving a great many. I have had as passengers Senators Charles Dudley, Wm. L. Marcy, John A Dix, William H. Seward, Hamilton Fish, of New York, and others."
"Did you ever drive presidents?"
"Oh yes. I once had William H. Harrison, of Ohio, kinsman of the present `Ben,' but that was before William was elected president. Judging by what the papers say of the present ruler, he is a much inferior man to William Harrison. William Harrison was very well thought of in New York state. I also once drove James K. Polk, of Tennessee, who became president in 1845. Millard Fillmore was also a passenger. He was a fine man, and I think one of the most affable gentlemen I ever saw.
"Two of the most prominent passengers I ever had were Martin Van Buren and Andrew Jackson. They rode with me once together. Andrew Jackson was a great man, and he was very popular with the masses. I remember well when, after Jackson and Van Buren reached their destination at Danby, Jackson, who was their president, thanked me for the easy and safe ride I had given him and handed me fifty cents. I was then about seventeen years old. Those were great times then. There was a strong and bitter fight between the Masons and anti-Masons. The Masons were for Jackson, and all my people were Andrew Jackson democrats and have remained so until this hour, your humble servant included. An anti-Mason was then postmaster at Danby, and I recollect distinctly what Jackson said on that occasion. Said he: "All that are not for me are against me, and they must be hulled out, whereupon he removed the anti-Mason postmaster, and appointed my uncle, Hudson Jennings, to the office. That's good doctrine, ain't it, `to the victor belongs the spoils,' and that seems to have been the faith of old Andrew."
"Did you vote for Jackson for President?" VOTED FOR VAN BUREN.
"No, I wasn't quite of age when he ran the last time. My first vote was cast for Martin Van Buren in 1836, a few months after I was twenty-one years old, and after I had moved to Macon."
Continuing "Uncle Ira" said: "One of the grandest men I ever rode in my coach was John C. Calhoun, the great senator from South Carolina. He was a man among men. He should have been president of the United States. Although a man of national fame, he always had a kindly word for even the poor hack driver. I also drove Clay and Webster. I always picked the smoothest places in the road when I had such men as passengers."
A TERRIBLE EXPERIENCE
"One of the worst accidents that befell me," said
Jennings, "was while I was driving on the line of Pennsylvania. I was going at a rapid pace, when the coach was overturned by running over a log. I was thrown off, and my hand was caught between the wheel and a large piece of rock. The scalp was torn off, and it fell upon the back of my neck. My head was terribly cut, and my left thigh was broken."
WENT TO VIRGINIA
In 1833 Jennings went to Virginia from New York with sixteen horses to drive coach and mail for a man named Avery, between Richmond and Petersburg. There Jennings had as passengers many of the Old Dominion's most famous sons. Avery broke in about a year and Jennings was left with not sufficient money to get back to New York. Says he: "I was engaged by a man named Saltmarsh, an Indian trader and star-router, to come to Macon and drive a coach and the mail from Macon to Knoxville, Crawford county. I came by coach through North and South Carolina to Macon, and, had it not been for the drink of liquor in old Virginy, I would never have come to Georgia. I reached here in 1834, and commenced to carry Uncle Sam's mail bags to Knoxville, over the same route that I have daily traversed until I went blind, a week or so ago."
A THRILLING ADVENTURE
"Did you ever have any thrilling adventure on this route?" I asked
"Yes, several of the most exciting being in January, 1837. I was driving the coach from Knoxville to Crowell stand, in what is now known as Taylor county. There were several passengers in the coach-a merchant of New Orleans, two gamblers and a little boy. When we reached the Flint river it was on a terrible freshet, and I knew it was hazardous to risk the coach on the flat and attempt to cross the badly swollen and rushing stream, which was far out of its banks. But the merchant and gamblers insisted that the attempt should be made, and, of course, I resolved to accommodate them. We had gone but a little distance when the flat was soon from our control. The passengers climbed on top of the coach as a supposed place of safety. Presently the flat was carried under the limb of a large tree, and the passengers were swept off the flat into the torrent. The horses were drowned. I seized the little boy, to protect him, but soon he was torn from my arms by the angry waters, but fortunately he lodged in the limb of a tree, from where he was rescued some hours later. Strange to say, none of the passengers were drowned. I landed upon an island, in the center of which was a large tree. I climbed it and tied my white shut to the top as a signal of distress. It was seen by parties in a boat far up the river, and they
CAME TO OUR RESCUE."
"In the coach when it turned over was a leather pouch, containing $7,000 in bills, that was being sent to a firm in New Orleans. There were also a number of letters in the pouch. After the waters subsided, there was a general hunt by the natives for the pouch, for which a reward of $100 was offered. Four months after the above accident the pouch was found in the swamp of the Flint river. (By Paddy Carr, according to a later story.) The letters were indistinguishable from the effects of the water, but the money bills were sufficiently distinct to tell that they had been issued by a bank at Washington City. The money was redeemed by the bank."
"The coach drifted into a kind of a lake on a gentleman's plantation, and the lake filled up from the washings of the neighboring lands and became cultivated. Sometime afterwards, when a negro was plowing in this new-made place, the pointer of his 'scooter' stuck into the coach."
"UNCLE IRA" MARRIES
On December 5, 1839, Jennings married Miss Elizabeth Newsome, by whom he had four sons and three daughters. Three of the sons were in the late war, and one was killed therein. His son Bill had seven bullets to pass through his clothing. It was Bill who so fearlessly mounted the breastworks at Franklin, Tenn. Uncle Ira located in the celebrated Warrior district in January, 1842, where he has a farm.
"Wait until you hear from the Warrior!"
Many a hope has been builded and many a knoll sounded at the utterance of these words.
Warrior is a precinct post an even dozen miles from the Bibb county courthouse, and in the years gone by the sixty odd good solid voters, upon which so much depended were held in the hollow of Uncle Ira Jennings' hand.
Uncle Ira was the autocrat of the pine stumpy pea-fieldy region, known as the Warrior district, and the candidate who did not see Uncle Ira several months before the election and straighten out matters, regretted it when the ballots were counted.
To see Uncle Ira and inform him of the fact was as necessary as announcing a candidacy in the public prints, and no candidate with any hope of success ever neglected this requirement.
And when the windows of the town precincts went down at the close of the election day with the bang of a sundown gun, and the couriers from the minor country precincts came sauntering in with the official votes, set down in Chinese laundry hieroglyphics on the back of an envelope or a scrap of paper, there was a grouping of candidates and their friends to count noses. If the scales balanced and a few more votes were needed to throw the election one way or the other, there was a world of anxiety and doubt back of the words:
"Wait till you hear from the Warrior."
They tell some hard things on Uncle Ira (and lots of them were false), and among them they said Uncle Ira had somebody on the outside of the anxious groups listening to find out how things stood, and that the Warrior returns were held back to await the listener's arrival. From five to twenty-four hours, it is said, the returns were held back, according to circumstances. Nobody ever accused Uncle Ira of doctoring the returns, but there is no case on record of the Warrior going the wrong way. Uncle Ira's way was always carried until in later years, when his eyesight began to fail and another class of citizens grew up in the Warrior.
"Uncle Ira" has always been a warm friend of the reporters, and on each trip to Macon brought them a batch of good news items. During his confinement the past ten days he has been greatly missed, but with the return of his eyesight he will soon be seen coming down Cotton avenue with his little buggy, in which will be one or more of Uncle Sam's mail bags. Jno. T. Boifeuillet
Ira Jennings died in March 27, 1904 at Macon, Ga, his son William H. Jennings was paralyzed the day his father died and never recovered and died a few days after his father.
- THE ATLANTA CONSTITUTION
MAY 3, 1896
IRA JENNINGS - - The oldest stage driver and U. S. mail carrier now alive in the world and in active service is Ira Jennings, of the Warrior district, Bibb County, Georgia. Though he is nearly eighty-two years old, he is hale and hearty and travels in his buggy 150 miles every week carrying the mails. The finger of time has traced many deep lines in his face and exposure to the elements have furrowed his brow and hardened his skin, but his spirit is still young, his step is quick and the fires of democratic ardor burns brightly and unceasingly in his breast. He has faced and braved many storms, atmospherical and political, and has always rode safely into port on the crest of the foaming waves.
He is known at "Uncle Ira" in this neck of the woods. Upon his favor have hung the destinies of many aspiring politicians. He has selected and defeated numerous candidates for office, and for many long years it was the practice of those seeking the suffrages of the people to first communicate with Uncle Ira before announcing their candidacy. For thirty-five years he was manager of the Warrior precinct, and there was an old political saying "as goes the Warrior so goes the country". Many candidates either to their joy or woe, have realized the truth of this. He still takes an active interest in politics and his influence is potent.
"Uncle Ira" has had a remarkable career and his history is full of thrilling incidents and startling episodes. He was born July 15, 1815, in Danby, Tompkins County, New York, six miles from Ithaca, on the Oswega and Ithaca turnpike. His mother was the first white child born in Owego, Tioga County, on the Susquehanna River, New York (A). So delighted were the Indian tribes at her arrival they had a jubilee in celebration of the event. At the age of 13 Ira went on the race track in the capacity of jockey, in which position he remained several years. He was a fast rider and once won a purse of $10,000 for the owner of a half-mile racer, a Pennsylvanian by the name of Correlle.
"Uncle Ira" won this race in a very novel manner. He had trained the Correlle horse with a fleet-footed greyhound. The speed of the two animals was about the same. The greyhound had been taught to race the track with the horse, and the runs between them were neck and neck. The reputation of a fast horse in Virginia reached the ears of Correlle in Pennsylvania and he determined to race his horse with the Virginia horse. So he took Ira, the horse and the greyhound to the Virginia race course, where a great meet was being held. One of the events was a half-mile dash between the famed Virginia horse and another rapid animal. Correlle told Ira that the speed of the Virginia horse must be taken with the greyhound. So when the
two horses dashed off, Ira, unobserved by the great crowd which was watching the take-off, turned loose the greyhound who raced down the track and came out twenty feet ahead of the horses, with the Virginia horse winning. Correlle knew then that his horse could defeat the Virginia victor for it was always a nip and tuck race between his horse and the greyhound.
Correlle banted the Virginian for a race between their horses for a $10,000 purse. The banter was accepted and the great audience which had assembled to see the race bet their money on the Virginia horse and many ladies wanted to bet their watches with Correlle that he would lose, but Correlle could not take all the wagers as all his money was in the purse. The race was run with Ira riding Correlle's horse. Ira's horse came out winner by several lengths.
Soon after this Ira left the race court and began driving a canal boat that weighed 290 tons. He drove two huge black horse tandem that weighed 1500 lbs. each. After a certain trip from Ithica to Albany he left the horses at Auburn and the crew took the boat into Ciougin Lake. Ira went down into the hull on a mission and discoverd the boat had sprung a leak. He took off his coat and shoved it into the hole, stopping the leak and saving the boat. This experience satisfied him with boating and he left the water and went to Oswega, N. Y. and commenced stage driving and carrying the U.S. mail from Oswega to Mt. Rose and between various other points in New York and Pennsylvania. He was then about seventeen. A wooden railroad was built between Oswega and Ithica and Ira commenced to drive horses tandem on that. The track, wheels, cars and everything about ths railroad was made of wood. One day on this road he drove Andrew Jackson, President of the U. S., Vice-Pres. Martin Van Buren, Postmaster General Amos Kendall, and Nick Biddell, Cashier of the U.S. Bank. On this occasion President Jackson was making a campaign for re-electon. Ira says he knew Andrew Jackson and Martin van Buren quite well. Ira drove on the wooden railroad six months. He then carried thirty head of horses for John Avery to Petersburg and began driving a stage and carrying the mail from Petersburg to Richmond and City Point. Also he drove from Linchburg, Charlottesville and Staufton. Later he drove from Halifax, N. C. to Tarber, on the Tar River, then from Cheraw, S. C. to Patilla Creek.
President Jackson ordered an express line to run from Washington to New Orleans at the rate of ten miles per hour on horseback. Ira went to Petersburg and got thirty horses and returned to Cheraw to help run the express. He established his horses seven miles apart on the route and he carried the first express into Cheraw that had ever entered the city. Orders from President Jackson came one day for every man along the route to be at his post as he desired to see how rapidly his messages could be carried from Washington to New Orleans. When the trial day came Ira received the message at Cheraw and went in full gallop to the end of his route, a distance of 75 miles, and back again to Cheraw, covering the 150 miles on horseback in one day, stopping only to change horses.
When Ira quit riding the express he returned to Petersburg and met a Mr. Saltmarsh who induced him to come to Macon, Ga. He reached here June 15, 1834, at the age of nineteen. On the 19th day of June 1834, sixty-two years ago, Ira started driving a stage and carrying the U. S. mail from Macon to Knoxville, Crawford County, Ga. and he is carrying the mail between these two points to this day. Stage driving has long since become obsolete in this civilized section and progressive era of railroads, but Ira carries Uncle Sam's mail with horse and buggy. In 1834 his route extended to Crollstand, some distance beyond Knoxville, and four miles beyond the Flint River. In December 1837 there was a very heavy freshet and Ira attempted to cross the river with several others on the flat. Among them was John Toser, stage agent at Columbus, and a young boy named Tom Hicks. Midway of the river the flat broke loose and floated four miles down the river. The waters were high and the river was far beyond its banks. The flat floated under the limbs of a large oak tree, and the stage, one of the horses that had been un-harnessed, and the boy Tom Hicks, were swept into the raging stream. With great difficulty young Hicks was rescued from drowning and the horse was saved, but the coach was lost for four months, but the next April was found in an old field where the waters had carried it. The flat and its occupants drifted some distance down the river to an island where the party remained for hours and were finally rescued by farmers in batteaus. When the coach was swept off the flat an old pouch containing $7000 in bills was lost. In July, seven months after the freshet, it was found by an old man named Patty Carr. The bills were badly water stained and stuck tightly together. They were forwarded to the Treasury at Washington and redeemed. Carr was paid a reward of $100 for finding the money.
Ira was married Dec. 5, 1839. His wife died in Feb. 1891. They had had a happy married life of more than fifty-two years. Seven children blessed their union, six of whom are still living. He has twenty-six grandchildren alive and nine dead. He also has three great grandchildren.
During the late war he helped form the Hugenin Rifles and provided for and took care of 15 families of the members of the company while the Rifles were at the front.
"Uncle Ira" is a man of much wit and geniality, is liked by everybody and is true and humane. During the long years he has been carrying the mails he has served the government faithfully and efficiently.
||Johnson & Hanson
||29 Dec 2017 |
||Pliny JENNINGS, b. 26 Jun 1793, Cornwall Litchfield Connecticut |
||Mary MARSH, b. 8 Mar 1799, Litchfield Connecticut d. 05 Oct 1831, Geneva, Seneca, New York (Age 32 years) |
||12 Jan 1815
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||Elizabeth L. NEWSOM, b. 15 Nov 1818, GA d. 6 Feb 1891 (Age 72 years) |
||5 Dec 1839
||Macon, Bibb County, Georgia
| ||1. Madison P JENNINGS, b. 03 Sep 1841, BIbb County, GA d. 17 Jun 1864, Macon, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 22 years)|
| ||2. William H JENNINGS, b. 22 Oct 1843, BIbb County, GA d. 06 Apr 1903, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 59 years)|
| ||3. Benjamin F JENNINGS, b. 22 Nov 1845, BIbb County, GA d. 02 Nov 1917, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 71 years)|
|+||4. Espey Rilla S. JENNINGS, b. 02 Oct 1847, BIbb County, GA d. 1908, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 60 years)|
|+||5. Elizabeth L JENNINGS, b. 26 Jan 1851, BIbb County, GA d. 14 Dec 1927, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 76 years)|
|+||6. Theodore JENNINGS, b. 02 Oct 1853, BIbb County, GA d. 19 Jun 1929, Bibb County, Georgia (Age 75 years)|
|+||7. Martha Ellen JENNINGS, b. 12 Mar 1856, Georgia d. 01 Mar 1931 (Age 74 years)|
||Group Sheet | Family Chart
||John Ira Jennings|
The ATlanta Constitution,May 3,1896
OLD "UNCLE IRA"
The Oldest Stage Driver in the World Holding the Reins
||Espey Rilla Jennings|
Wife of William Russell Jones and daughter of Ira and Elizabeth Newsom Jennings
- [S13] US Federal Census 1900_Ira Jennings.
- [S15] US Federal Census 1880_Ira Jennings.