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John Royston’s Orphan: Fortunate Winner of the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery | The Global Today

Do you’ve got any ancestors who had been fortunate? Maybe issues all the time appeared to go their method or maybe they actually did win the lottery. Such was the case with John Royston’s orphan. Not solely was this particular person fortunate within the land draw, however I used to be additionally fortunate that this document was created as a result of it grew to become a key piece of proof in linking generations.

The Georgia 1827 Land Lottery

Georgia is a state-land state that means that the state was answerable for distributing land because it grew to become obtainable by means of the Creek Nation land treaties. When a land cession occurred, Georgia held a lottery to distribute the land. Land lotteries occurred eight instances between 1805 and 1833. The Georgia Archives holds these information and particulars a basic sample for the lotteries.

  •  The Common Meeting handed an act authorizing the lottery and detailed who was eligible and the charges that may be related to the land grant.
  •  Surveyors laid out the land in districts and plenty and despatched these numbers to the governor’s workplace.
  •  Eligible residents would then register their names of their county of residence. The names had been despatched to the governor’s workplace the place they had been copied onto tickets and positioned in a big container known as a “wheel.” (This began with the second lottery).
  • A second wheel held the district and lot numbers. Earlier than 1820, clean tickets had been added so the numbers of each wheels could be equal.
  • Governor-appointed commissioners then drew a ticket from every wheel. If the ticket was clean, the particular person acquired nothing. If the ticket named a district/lot quantity, the particular person acquired that land parcel. This was often called a “lucky draw.” After 1820 when the clean tickets weren’t added to the wheel, any particular person’s ticket remaining within the wheel was thought-about a clean.
  • The lucky drawers might then pay a price and take out a grant lot for his land parcel. If the particular person didn’t take out the grant, the land reverted again to the state to be offered to the very best bidder.


As in any lottery, not each entry was awarded land, however the land lottery lists of candidates have been preserved and may give essential genealogical data when mixed with the eligibility necessities.

A lucky drawer of the 1827 land lottery was “John Royston’s orphan.” Abstracted data from the official land grant dated 21 December 1831 follows:

Granted unto John Royston’s orphan of Gaines District, Morgan County
202 1/2 acres within the twentieth district, 1st part, in Lees County, lot 18

As typically occurs, the document raises many extra questions: Who was John Royston? What was the eligibility requirement for an “orphan” within the 1827 land lottery? Who might be John Royston’s orphan?

The 1827 land lottery was approved by the Georgia Common Meeting by an act of 9 June 1825. Land positioned in 5 counties created from the western a part of the state often called “Indian Lands” was to be granted. Carroll, Coweta, Lee, Muscogee, and Troup counties had been included and every land lot was to be 202 1/2 acres. The lucky drawers had been to pay the grant price of $18 per land lot.

The 1827 lottery had seventeen classes for an individual entitled to a draw and every was very particular corresponding to “Married man with spouse or son below 18 years or single daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, a citizen of United States – 2 attracts.”

Single ladies weren’t allowed a draw, however a widow or spouse and/or youngster whose husband or father had been absent from the state for 3 years had been entitled to a draw. Bodily or mentally disabled women and men had been additionally entitled to a draw.

A number of of the classes offered for kids below eighteen who had been illegitimate or whose father was useless or absent from the state. These usually included the requirement of both start within the state or a 3-year residence in Georgia.

Navy service within the Revolutionary Battle, Battle of 1812, or Indian Battle was acknowledged with veterans, widows, or orphans of veterans named in a number of of the eligibility necessities.

The Act of 1825 additionally had exclusions: any lucky drawer in a earlier lottery, anybody who refused service within the Battle of 1812 or Indian Battle, anybody who abandoned from navy service, any tax defaulter, or any convict within the penitentiary.

For the 1827 land lottery, probably the most relevant requirement for the orphan of John Royston was: “the spouse or youngsters of any man who was absent from Georgia for 3 or extra years.” These had been handled as a widow and orphans, and any tons received had been vested in them as if the absent husband had been deceased.

John Royston’s Identification

Who was John Royston? He first seems in Georgia within the 1800 territorial census taken in Oglethorpe County. That is the one county in Georgia with an extant 1800 census. He married Polly Cessna in neighboring Greene County in 1803.


No 1810 census returns exist so John’s family with Polly can’t be examined. He disappears from the information till 1814 when Polly petitioned the Georgia Meeting for a divorce. What grounds did she record? Desertion of herself and her three youngsters. She additionally suspected he has one other spouse in South Carolina. Within the petition, Mary “Polly” provides the next key data concerning the household displaying that John had deserted his Greene County household.

  • “John hath for the final six years with none type of simply motive or provocation withdrawn himself fully from the mattress & board of your petitioner”
  • “Leaving her with three babies to assist & educate with none type of support or help from him”
  • “John had one other spouse dwelling within the state of both North or South Carolina
  • Polly swears that “ having made inquiry & induced inquiry to be made by her mates & acquaintances within the totally different elements of the state of Georgia, she has been fully unable to study something of the stated Royston or his residence.”


The state legislature granted the divorce and John doesn’t seem to have contested it. He utilized for a land patent in Bulloch County, Georgia, in 1814, so he does appear to have moved from Greene County. He doesn’t seem on any census or some other document after 1814 till his identify seems on the 1827 Georgia Land Lottery in reference to the orphan of John Royston.

Polly Cessna

No less than ten years earlier than the Royston marriage Polly had married Samuel Cessna of Greene County, Georgia. No marriage document is extant for this marriage, however a key authorized document from 21 March 1793 supplies oblique proof for a possible marriage. Within the doc, Samuel Cessna is relinquishing two negro ladies who had been assigned to Polly Baker by the need of Robert Baker, deceased. It reads:

“I Samuel Cessna of Greene Co. for the consideration of 1 negro boy named Isaac quit all the precise and title to a negro lady named Agg and her daugher Hannah which negroes it’s presumed I’ve held in reversion by advantage of the need of Robt. Baker Dec’d. Which negroes in stated will was assigned to Polly Baker by stated Robert Baker Decd. which proper in reversion I do hereby relinquish for myself & my heirs and many others. to Thomas Baldwin in consideration of the above negro Isaac. Signed: Saml. Cessna. Wit: James Taylor. Rec’d of Thos. Baldwin on account of his being guardian for Polly Baker now Polly Cessna full satisfaction for bonds payments money owed dues & calls for from the start of the world to this present day being the 21 March 1793.”

  • A number of essential particulars will be pulled from this document.
  • Polly Baker might be the daughter of Robert Baker since she is assigned “two negro ladies” in his will.
  • Thomas Baldwin was appointed the guardian of Polly Baker indicating a detailed relationship.
  • Polly Baker is now Polly Cessna, oblique proof of a wedding to a Cessna by 1793.


Following the divorce, Polly moved her household west to neighboring Morgan County, Georgia. She reverted to Cessna as her surname and certain resided with or close to her youngsters from each the Cessna and Royston marriages. A number of tax information present Robert, Samuel, and Mary Cessna. Polly is a nickname for Mary so Mary Cessna is probably going Mary “Polly” Baker Cessna Royston.

John Royston’s Orphan: Thomas Beverly Royston

Polly’s divorce petition acknowledged he had fathered three youngsters together with her so there could be three prospects as any one of many three might be the “orphan of John Royston.” To this point, solely two youngsters have emerged from the information as John and Polly’s progeny: Thomas Beverly Royston born 1806 and Sarah Baldwin (Royston) Irwin born 1808. The third sibling maybe died younger, moved away from the realm, or married and left no connection to her Royston maiden identify.

John Royston’s orphan resided in Gaines District, Morgan County, Georgia, per the land lottery document. The place had been Thomas and Sarah residing in 1827? Sarah married David Irwin in Morgan County in 1830. Thomas paid taxes in the identical county in 1831. Morgan County neighbors Greene County and maybe after the divorce, Polly moved her household to a brand new space.

Thomas probably moved west due to his lucky draw within the 1827 land lottery. He in all probability offered the Lee County land as no document exhibits his residence in that county. He lived the remainder of his life in Alabama, first in DeKalb County then Chambers County the place he did in 1868. Together with his spouse, Cynthia Dillard, he had fourteen youngsters, one named Robert Cessna Royston – a tie to his half brother, Robert Cessna.

Maybe the luck of the draw enabled Thomas to strike out on his personal and set up his family. Generally our ancestors simply obtained fortunate. As a researcher, the land lottery document additionally offered me with a key piece of proof tying Thomas to his father, John Royston.

Better of luck in all of your genealogical endeavors!




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