GEEography

Articles - Gee Family Place Names




Gee's Bend, Wilcox County, Alabama

A plantation named Gee's Bend was established in the very early 1800's on a huge bend in the Alabama River directly across the river from the present location of Camden, Alabama. The owner and creator of this prosperous plantation was Joseph Gee born March 12, 1763 in Sussex County, VA eldest son of Charles Gee and his second wife Elizabeth Dobie who later moved to Halifax, North Carolina. Joseph went to Wilcox County, AL where he built the plantation and he died at Mobile on Dec, 1, 1824. He was a bachelor and left an estate estimated at from $40,000 to $60,000 which obviously must have included the plantation, Gee's Bend. His nephews Sterling H. Gee and Charles J. Gee offered to probate an alleged verbal will by which the deceased bequeathed all his property exclusively to the two nephews. The excluded heirs contested this arrangement in a chancery court suit so there is a court record of this whole sordid affair. The result was that the property was divided among Joseph's nieces and nephews.

As I understand there is a romantic legend told in the area about Joseph Gee. Joseph is on the 1820 census of Wilcox County as a single male with eighteen slaves but according to the legend he had married the daughter of an Indian chief. Considering the time and place the chief was probably Alexander McGillivray of the Creeks who, as you can tell by his name, was the result of a colorful lineage and the subject of several romantic tales himself as he fought for the British during the Revolution. The story indicates that Joseph took his Indian bride back to North Carolina to meet his family who rejected her completely. He swore never to speak to his family again and went back to Alabama to live among the Indians. There is even speculation that the infamous will was an attempt by Joseph to leave something to his Indian bride who was never heard from again.

The 1850 census lists William F. Gee, attorney, living in Camden just across the Alabama River from Gee's Bend. He was a nephew to Joseph Gee and could have been keeping an eye on the property. It appears the property was jointly owned by several members of the family at this time. At about this time another (possible) family member, John Henry Gee, came to live at Gee's Bend as resident manager and overseer. John Henry's son, Samuel Bolivar Gee, who lived there as a child told of the impressive mansion they lived in. He spoke of playing among the cotton bales stacked on the wharves at Camden, and the excitement at the arrival of a steamboat.

John Henry Gee and his family did not stay long at Gee's Bend. Samuel said that his father suffered from rheumatism because of the low lying land along the river where the plantation was located. He heard of the supposed healthful benefits of the hot springs in central Arkansas and decided to go there. The family story is that in addition to his problems with rheumatism John Henry could never adjust to the directing of slave gangs. When the slaves learned of his decision to leave they begged him to stay because they feared a new overseer who might be cruel to them. Then they begged him to take them with him. Of course he could not do that because they did not belong to him. This confronted John Henry with an impossible situation so he made plans to slip away with his family during the night. The story goes that an elderly slave caught them leaving. He pleaded with them not to go and ran after the wagon. Fearing tht the commotion would awaken the sleeping slaves, in desperation John Henry bound the old man to a tree with a rope where he would be found in the morning. This incident was reportedly told repeatedly by the son Samuel who was much affected by the entire affair and became convinced of the immorality of slavery. An excellent article on John Henry Gee can be found at http://wolfden.swsc.k12.ar.us/depot_museum/gee.html.

The plantation home no longer exists having burned in the 1930's but the large bend in the river continues to be known as Gee's Bend. Upriver to the west of Gee's Bend is Gee's Bend Access and a small community in the area is also known as Gee's Bend.

Maps

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Sources:
The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher 1937
The Life and Times of John Henry Gee, by James H. Dill, The Old Time Chronicle Magazine





Henry Gee Cemetery, Gadsden County, Florida

Henry Gee (1782-1851) (James3, Henry2, Charles1) moved from Fayetteville, N.C. to Georgetown, S.C. where he married Agnes Forrester. Agnes died about 1820 and Henry, circa 1823, married Martha Elizabeth Forrester, sister of Agnes. Henry and Elizabeth moved to Gadsden County, Florida in 1827 where Henry became a wealthy and influential member of the community. He apparently was a man ahead of his time and an active participant in social improvement and change. He was a trustee of the Quincy Academy in 1840 and from the August 7, 1841 issue of the Tallahassee Floridian we learn that he was one of the originators of a movement to establish a female college at Quincy. Henry was an active member of the Masons and was elected to the highest office of the State Lodge. His name is on a bronze tablet at the entrance to the Masonic Temple in Tallahassee and the Lodge in Chattahoochee was known as the Gee Lodge at least until the late 1930's.

Henry picked his own gravesite 20 years before his death and was the first to be buried in the cemetery which lay among a grove of oaks on a steep hill. The last person to be buried there was probably William V. Gee (a family black sheep) who died in 1927 and lies in an unmarked grave. Upon Henry's death the State Lodge placed a tomb over the grave to honor his memory. When the plantation passed from the possession of the Gee Family the cemetery fell into disrepair. The cemetery remained in this condition for many years until a family group, organized by Annette Gee Ford of Quincy, restored the property. Annette financed the project by arranging a reprint of The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher which devotes a full chapter to Henry Gee and his family. Proceeds from the sale of the reprint allowed the family to enclose the graves in a chain link fence; have the broken monuments repaired; and install a monument with a brass plaque that lists the persons buried in the unmarked graves.

The cemetery is located about 4 miles southeast of Quincy off of SR 267. It is on private property that was part of Henry Gee's plantation.

Photos

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Sources:
The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher 1937
Photos and restoration information courtesy of Annette Gee Ford





Gee Pond, Mitchell County, Georgia

Bolivar Hopkins Gee was a Methodist minister who lived in Decatur County, Georgia where he married an heiress, Margaret Susan McElveen. They eventually had nine children. During the Civil War he was appointed Captain in the 59th Georgia Regiment on May 3, 1862 and was promoted to Major on December 22, 1862. On July 10, 1863 he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. He participated in the battle at Gettysburg and was wounded at the Wilderness and on several other occasions. After the war Bolivar returned to Georgia and bought property in Mitchell County. Eventually he owned a plantation of approximately 1000 acres. This property included a 200 acre cypress lake that is now known as Gee Pond. It is located to the southwest of Camilla, Geogia on Gee Pond Road. The lake is about 100 acres of open water with channels through 100 acres of cypress marsh connecting other open water areas. The lake is still owned by members of the Gee family.

Photo

Maps

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Sources:
The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher 1937
Photo courtesty of Annette Gee Ford





Gee Historical Cemetery, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana

In 1836 the family of Sack Pennington Gee, b. July 26, 1795 VA, d. June 7, 1863 LA settled in an isolated area of Claiborne Parish in extreme north Louisiana. Sack moved to this area from Livingston in Claiborne County, Mississippi. There is much evidence to support the belief that Sack P. Gee was the son of Lucas Gee of Lunenburg County, VA. A local legend indicates that the Gees moved to Louisiana to escape the wrath of the remaining members of the John A. Murrell outlaw gang because Sack had helped to bring their notorious leader to justice in Mississippi. Historical documentation confirms that Sack P. Gee did indeed play a part in the pursuit and capture of this southern villain whose violent history was chronicled in the biography Reverend Devil by Ross Phares, Pelican Publishing Company, 1941.

The Gees probably hoped to start a new life in the hills of Claiborne Parish. They eventually established a plantation of almost 3,000 acres and became very well known in the area for their prosperity. Sack, a teacher early in his career, was a man of education and refinement who was elected state representative of Claiborne Parish in 1839. Their enjoyment of the wealth they accumulated was tempered by numerous family tragedies. Their son John L. Gee aged 17 years died only two years after their arrival in Louisiana. Two years later their young son Jones L. Gee died at the age of 7. Dr. Lucas Gee, brother to Sack, died at the age of 42 in 1850. In 1863 Sack P. Gee passed away and a short two years later Sack and Mary Gee's only daughter Mary died at the age of 18 years. Mary Gee died in 1873 after much of their fortune and land was gone. The Gees left no descendants and soon the family cemetery was overgrown and virtually forgotten.

Today the quaint family cemetery has been restored by the Claiborne Parish Historical Association. The graves of the members of Sack Gee's family are brick vaults topped with marble slabs. They are located atop a slight knoll and among them grow two huge old oak trees. Between the vaults of Sack Pennington Gee and daughter Mary is a gap where presumably wife Mary lies. When she died there was no money for an impressive brick vault. Nothing marks her grave but a piece of crude native stone. Nearby, in remebrance of the Sack Gee family, are two small creeks that bear the family name.

The historical cemetery lies 10.7 miles southeast of Homer, Lousiana. To reach the site take highway 146 E. From Homer 7.8 miles past Lake Claiborne to Shaw-Marsalis Road, directly across from the junction of LA 518 N. 1/2 miles past the entrance of Lake Claiborne State Park. Turn right onto Shaw-Marsalis Road and continue 2 miles then turn left onto a small unmarked paved road. Continue on this road .9 miles. The Gee Cemetery is on the left.

Photos

Gee Cemetery Maps
Gee Creek #1 Maps
Gee Creek #2 Maps

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Sources:
Claiborne Parish Sketches, Claiborne Parish Historical Association, 1956
Historic Claiborne '69, Claiborne Parish Historical Association, 1969
1840, 1850 Claiborne Parish census
The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher 1937





Gee Creek, Baker County, Oregon

Gee Creek and Gee Swamp are located in the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon, in the high desert. The elevation ranges from 3,800 ft. to 6,300 ft. The bottom of Gee Creek is located about 6 miles from the town of Baker Oregon. Baker is an old Gold mining town with a lot of history. There are many graves up in the mountains that are very old and the markers can not be read. Some of these graves are near Gee Creek. In the early days miners would simply drive stakes in the ground to mark their claims and papers would not necessarily be filed. It is possible that an early miner who staked his claim was a Gee who lived, died, and was buried near his claim that today also bears his name. We may never know the identity of the Gee who gave his name to Gee Creek.

Photos

Gee Creek Maps
Gee Creek Swamp Maps

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Sources:
Photos and information courtesy of Bob Kanau
Baker County Sheriff Dept.
US Forest Service





Gee Cemetery, Monroe County, Kentucky

Daniel Boone blazed the trail into Kentucky in 1769 when he discovered the Cumberland Gap. He and 30 men blazed the Wilderness Road through the gap in the Cumberland Mountains in 1775. By 1792 Kentucky had become a state and for many years to come land grants of various types were made available to entice prospective settlers and pioneers to move into Kentucky.

Two Gee brothers James and Jesse sons of Neavil Gee of Lunenburg County, Virginia were among those early pioneers who took advantage of the land grants. It appears that Jesse went to Kentucky first, sometime before 1798. His brother James followed sometime before 1804. According to land records Jesse eventually accumulated 500 acres from various grants. James acquired at least 200 acres.

According to a letter written in 1906 by William Sanford Gee to his nephew, Harlan Gee, the Gee family made their way to Kentucky from Virginia by travelling north until they were able to build flatboats and float to Pittsburgh where they ventured onto the Ohio River. Some miles below Pittsburgh they anchored their flatboats to trees and camped several weeks near a sugar orchard where they collected sap and rendered it into molasses thus supplying themselves with enough to last several months. They continued a liesurely float down the Ohio to the mouth of the Cumberland River. Entering the Cumberland they ascended the river to a place named Center Point. This scenario is plausible since historical maps of the time reveal that there were no roads that led from Virginia westward towards the beginning of the Wilderness Road almost two hundred miles westward of the Gee homes in Virginia. To make this overland trip without the benefit of roads would have been very difficult and hazardous in the late eighteenth century. However, at the time there were several good roads that led north from Virginia into Pennsylvania. These included the King's Highway that connected the colonial capitols and the Occaneechi Trail. The existence of these roads made it more practical for the Gees to travel northward to a point where they could enter a river and float to the Ohio at Pittsburgh to begin their journey westward.

Jesse and James eventually established adjoining homesteads directly north of a feature in the Cumberland known as Turkey Neck Bend. There the families flourished for many years to come. In Cumberland County, 1802, Jesse Gee along with one Moses Kirkpatrick signed a bond as constable for Thomas Lincoln. Many references indicate that this Thonmas Gee was the father of Abraham Lincoln however this claim is doubtful.

Many of the children of James and Jesse Gee are buried in the Gee Cemetery located south of the Cumberland River in Turkey Neck Bend. The old cemetery is on private land and is not in good repair but the headstones continue to stand as reminders of the Gee pioneer history.

Photos Gee Cemetery and the lands of the old Gee hometead.

Maps

More info on James and Jesse Gee at Doug Moore's site on The Gee Family of Monroe Co, Kentucky.

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Sources:
The Kentucky Land Grants, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY
Gee/Biggerstaff letter of 1906
1800 Kentucky Tax List
1810 Kentucky census
The Gee Family, by W.J. Fletcher 1937
Photos courtesty of Bob Lamb, Bob & Sammye Lamb's Enterprises





Gee Creek Wilderness, Polk County, Tennessee

The Cherokee National Forest lies in the extreme southeast corner of Tennessee and covers most of Polk County. The Hiwassee Scenic River flows toward the northeast out of the forest toward the Tennessee River. The Gee Creek Wilderness is located just north of the Hiwassee to the east of highway 411. Within the park are several features named for members of the Gee family. These include Gee Creek, Gee Creek Campground, Gee Creek Trail, and a small summit known as Gee Knob. The Gee Creek Campground can be reached by turning east along a Forest Service road just north of the Hiwassee River bridge on highway 411. The campround is about 1 mile east of 411.

This area of Tennessee was settled in the 1840's soon after the Cherokees were forced to move to the west. Members of the Gee family were among the earliest settlers of the area. The family of Dr. James M. (b. Dec. 22, d. Oct. 22, 1891) and Harriet Gee lived about one half mile upstream from Highway 30 on Long Branch. The ancestry of Dr. Gee can be traced back to Charles and Hannah Gee of Virginia through their son Capt. James Gee. In the late 1800's the father of a J.B. Gee operated a grist mill along Long Branch. It is for these Gees that the features in the Gee Creek Wilderness are named. Clara LaDosky Gee was the daughter of Dr. James and Harriet Gee. There is an excellent article about her life on Deb Smyre's genealogy pages.

Gee Creek Wilderness Maps
Gee Knob Maps
Gee Creek Trail Maps
Gee Creek Campground Maps
Gee Creek Maps

Back to Tennessee Gee locations

Sources:
A Family Chronicle of S. Bradford Rymer, by Zola Rymer Graf
The Old Home Place, by Thurman Parish, Jr.
Polk County, TN Historical and Genealogical Society





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