Submitted by Descendants: Beverly MOUNT-DOUDS; Henry Lee and John Gilbert PITTS
Benjamin Pitts was born around 1815-1820, in Georgia. He married Serena Cowart in Henry County, Alabama on the 5th of August 1833. Serena was the daughter of Henry T. Cowart and Rachel LaFever who were married in Jefferson County, Georgia on August 30th, 1808. This gives us the French connection.
They came to Florida in 1834, at which time the Territorial of Jackson County included a large portion of present day Holmes County. He was one of the petitioners for better mail service to Webbville in Jackson County in 1834. He can be found on the Florida Voters list in the first statewide Election in 1845 in Jackson County, Senatorial District #3, at a precinct encaptioned “Rogue Town (John Williams’ House)”. Benjamin is also listed on Jackson County’s tax rolls in 1830’s as well as the militia roster for that period. Ben and Serena and the children can be found next on the 1850 Holmes County Census.
The 1830’s tax rolls of Jackson County might give us a clue as to some of the Pitts movements of the period. Both Benjamin and Louis Pitts, as heads of households paid extra taxes for Free Persons of Colour associated with their households on one of the tax rolls. A further search of Alabama and Georgia records show that the Pitts of Telfair County, Georgia had strong connections with those of Jackson and Holmes Counties up through the 1880’s. Captain John Pitts, Rev. Soldier, was awarded land grants as being a resident of Telfair County and land records show John Pitts had bought land and resided in Telfair in 1816, probably relocating from the Carolinas. The 1820 census only lists Free Persons of Colour in the households of John Pitts, Sr., and indicates his absence, at least temporary. We don’t have a record of his later movements, but indications are that some of the other various Telfair County kinfolk and family members in later years moved on to Dooley County, Georgia, while many appear to have moved on to and through Henry County, Alabama, and some on the Jackson and Holmes Counties.
The Pitts descendants of early Northwest Florida Territory were frontiersmen; they were fortunate in living in a time and area in which they had great opportunities.
Benjamin could have chosen to stay in the settled areas of the Carolinas, Georgia, or Alabama and possibly have had a far more financially rewarding career as a plantation owner as did many of his kin in these states. He chose instead to venture into the wilds of the new frontier county and to be a part of “The Great Hunt”.
Though privations were tough – no schools, churches nor medical facilities, it was a rare and opportune time in late history for man to again follow the flight of the wild geese, the call of the hawk, the bounding deer, the cool, clear streams full of fish, a walk through the forests of tall trees.
Also, to test a man’s bravery, it was a time of the Indian wars. Soon enough the forests would be cleared and man again have to follow a more mundane way of providing for his livelihood, and depend on the institutions we now call necessities.
He “kept his face to the wind” as only the strong survived, but he nevertheless died early of an influenza type illness in 1859, in Walton County, Florida at 45 years of age.
The hunt had ended for Benjamin, but he had enjoyed the wilderness, hunted the big game, had had fought the equally courageous Indians who had tried to retain their lands against these settlers. Serena lived on in the Bethlehem community for many more years.
The spirit of The Great Hunt is the Spirit of Adventure and appreciation of nature’s environment shared by all.
Benjamin Pitts was first established as 2005