Madison D. CODY - 1858 AugustaTo Tell the Truth & Shame the Devil – Part I

In September 2009, I discovered the The Claude Carr Cody Collection, a special collection of Madison Derrell CODY’S personal papers available at Southwestern University.

At the time I found the collection online, I’d chased M.D. CODY, the once believed first owner of my 4th Grandmother Catie WINGFIELD DORSEY for 10+ years through, numerous emails/threads with CODY descendants, the National Archives and Warren County’s Probate Court records.

As a result, I found Pierce CODY, the 1/2 brother of my Catie in the WPA Slave Narratives. I discovered my 5th Grandfather Elbert CODY and a 6th Grandmother, Rachel CODY (b. 1780).

In Michael CODY’S (M.D.’s Father) and Edmund CODY’S wills I confirmed more family — my 5th Grandmother Ailey, 1st wife of Elbert and Mother of Catie.

And finally, after 11 years of research divine intervention allowed me to find Ailey CODY DORSEY, the sister Catie left behind in 1859 when given to Rev. James M. DICKEY in route to Wilkes County, GA.

So when I found the C.C. CODY Collection, I just knew among the documents I specifically chose [highlighted below] from the MASSIVE collection, I’d find the answer to why the CODYS would send a 10-year-old girl away from her family, and how Rev. DICKEY came into contact with the family anyway. Right? WRONG!

Collection Items:

14 2 M. Darrell [Derrell] Cody, n.d./Personal and Financial Records Series
15 1 Scrapbook 1, 1835, 1838, 1848, 1852-1853, 1856-1857, 1860-1861, 1865
16 1 Scrapbook 2, 1848, 1860, n.d.
18 1 Scrapbook 4, 1860-1861
11.3 Cody’s Clippings Collection – Loose Clippings, Informational/Loose newspaper clippings of: “[untitled]”? by M.D. Cody
14.21 Cody’s/Cody’s Family Personal & Financial Records – M. Darrell [Derrell] Cody n.d
15.1 Scrapbooks – Scrapbook 1/1835, 1838, 1848, 1852-1853, 1856-1857, 1860-1861, 1865
18.1 Scrapbooks – Scrapbook 4/Correspondence to Mr. & Mrs. Cody

After a week of daily reporting from the onsite researcher I hired I accepted the truth — in a collection containing 100s of personal papers there was not a single mention of my Catie or ANY slave! ALL evidence of the CODYS slave holdings had been removed.

I was angry first. Then bitter — really bitter!. Then heartbroken. And finally without choice, accepting.

BUT I never considered what C.C. CODY’S family journal Me & My Folks, sent to me in 2010 by a CODY descendant, would reveal about their family.

Not official deeds or bills of sale, but a time stamp that tells the CODYS story from an insiders perspective. So actually,  more intimate than anything a probate court record could possibly offer.

The CODY journal is probably as close to retracing James DICKEY’S footsteps or knowing the thoughts/actions of the people were who owned my Catie and CODY Ancestors as I’ll ever come.

RebeccaCody_1858So what did I gain from this unexpected personal CODY perspective?

  • Rebecca ROGERS CODY was the 2nd wife of Michael CODY, and Mother of Madison Derrell. She was widowed on March 8, 1832 and died in 1852. M.D. inherited her property, slaves and increase — my CODY family.
  • Edmund CODY’S plantation — also referred to by C.C. and 4th Great Uncle Pierce via his Slave Narrative as “Bob CODY’S Place”  — was adjoined to Micheal’s land which at least explains how members of my family could live on both properties.
  • Edmund was an old man and lived alone until his death in January 1832. Questions to answer: who purchased Edmund’s property and at what point did it come into his grandson’s, Hardshell Baptist Robert (Bob) CODY’S, possession?
  • Edmund died long before Catie and Ailey were born in 1850 and 1848, so Catie’s memories of being on the plantation with “Master Cody” were of either Madison Derrell CODY  or Bob CODY.
  • Is there a given name connection between Fannie CARR CODY (Madison’s wife) and the 4 Fannie’s that came from my family line, beginning with Catie’s daughter?
  • Would Catie have mentioned a Mistress had she been on the plantation at the time with Madison and Fannie?
  • Rebecca too was a devout Baptist and missionaries traveling through Warren favored staying at their home. This explains why Rev. Freeman Franklin REYNOLDS (followed James DICKEY at Smyrna Church in 1862) and his family were counted on the CODY 1850 Warrenton Census.
  • For the first time, this DIRECTLY connects the Wilkes County Smyrna Church Methodist Ministers to Warren County CODYS! HUGE!:)
  • Madison was Warren County’s Secession Delegate. In 1860 he was in Crawfordville exchanging letters with his friend Alexander Stephens. If he were Catie’s owner, wouldn’t he have been in Warrenton when she was taken to Wilkes County in 1859-60?
  • The journal gives light to M.D’s bitterness about reconstruction, his role in the Georgia Secession Convention of 1861 and what prompted the family move to Covington in 1862-63 even BEFORE the slaves were freed — “the distant mutterings of the thunders of war could now be heard”.
  • A detailing of how Yankee raiders came close to assaulting the family in their Covington home and how the Civil War came to an end is here too.
  • There’s mention of slaves Seab assisting with getting Fannie CARR back to Warrenton and Cary being “collared” by the raiders entering the “negro house”. Slaves Henry, Jacob, Ben and Harry are also mentioned as still being on the plantation. Elias was mentioned as the only slave attempting to runway to join the “Yankees”.
  • The journal reveals M.D. CODY had his slave “old Redick” (included in Michael’s will) inform the other slaves they’d been freed and Phyllis (also included in Michael’s will) was the ONLY slave who left the plantation — only to return 1 week later.
  • Madison D. Cody’s heart condition spared him from the military. He didn’t immediately sell the plantation after the slaves were freed and admitted to C.C. some years later that following the emancipation of slaves he’d been involved with the Warren County KKK, well-known for its particularly brutal exploits. And to quote his reasoning one last time:

The problem of handling the ignorant negro, but recently armed with the ballot, was a difficult one at best, but these men made it, in some instances, impossible. It became necessary for the Ku Klux Klan to be organized in the interest of law and order.”

I see now there was MUCH more to hide in C. C. CODY’S Collection than Madison D. CODY’S slave holdings! The Night Riders of Warren County were known to have killed “bad” white men of the North, “carpetbaggers” and of the South “scalawags” as well.

That’s the piece of history the Collection Curator and CODY family had probably hoped to conceal most! M.D. CODY was an elected officer of the Confederacy. He was disenfranchised and sworn to upload a NEW Oath that he completely disavowed:


County of Warren, State of Georgia,
do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing Rebellion with reference to the emancipation of the slaves.
So help me God.

Subscribed and sworn to
before me, at Warrenton,
this 22 day of August,


Aside from everything else Madison Derrell CODY had been in respect to my Warrenton family, he was also complicit with the KKK in committing murder and acts of violence.

Whew! So where does this leave my research now?

  • My CODY chase ends here. I have no intentions of looking any further into Madison’s KKK history or reaching-out to the Texas CODY descendants regarding existing slave artifacts. This journal is all the “artifact” I need. I’m done.
  • No more emails/posts to the DICKEY descendants requesting knowledge of the contents left behind by Rev. James Madison DICKEY. I know now there WAS a connection between the traveling Methodist Missionaries and the CODYS.
  • I will live with not knowing what Catie details DICKEY’S journal/bible contains. It’s probably best that I not know.

Going through this 2014SAC research process has lifted a GREAT burden. The nagging is G-O-N-E.

I believe Catie’s Master CODY was Robert “Bob” CODY and until she was given to Rev. James Madison DICKEY, she lived on his plantation with her Sister Ailey, Father Elbert, Mother Ailey, and Grandmother Rachel.

I do believe I’ve met my 2014 Spring Ancestor Challenge! Yes, there are a few [nice to have] answers remaining, but finally the CODY-DICKEY-Smyrna Church mystery can be put to rest! Thank you Catie, Ailey, Pierce and any Ancestor assisting in the journey!



    • Search 1862-63 probate court records for Madison D. CODY to determine status of slaves, property when the family relocated to Covington, GA.
    • Search 1859-60 probate court records for Robert CODY to determine if he sold Catie to Minister DICKEY
    • Search probate court records for Robert CODY to identify any wills, estate inventory, indenture documents
    • Identify the church Bob Cody belonged to. Are there existing records from that time?