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Stories and Histories of Levi Potter and the Potter Family

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Surname/tag: Potter
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From the BigFeetTribes.com

"Levi Potter in 1819, moved his family and slaves from North Carolina to Holmes Valley. Holmes Valley, located in West Florida was destined to become Washington County. They became well settled, by the time Florida officially became United States Territory, in mid-1821. Levi Potter died sometime between 1842 and 1846, leaving a substantial estate to be distributed among his heirs. A settlement of the estate was to be distributed among his heirs. A settlement of the estate provided for a division of the slaves, without regard to some of their own personal desires.

One such individual, a young woman, was carried to Georgia by her new owner. She didn't want to go. She was deeply in love with Madison, a slave that was to remain the property of Levi Potters widow. The young woman's departure was a sad occasion for the young woman, Madison and Mrs. Potter. Mrs. Potter promptly bought the girl. She then presented her to Madison and soon took the happy couple back to Holmes Valley as husband and wife. Mrs. Potter, who devoted more than three weeks of her time, plus the hardships of frontier travel and the cost of the purchase, had demonstrated evidences of affection and compassion seldom recorded, but that were perhaps not uncommon in such frontier areas.

Madison was identified on the Holmes Valley (Ebenezer) Church records as the Potter Estate.

  • Was among 12 slaves baptized soon after that church was organized in 1846. Other Potter Estate slaves baptized at the same time were Harriet, Gibson, Louise and Mary. One of the three females may well have been the girl that Madison , with determined help of the widow of his former owner had brought back from Georgia as his bride.

Madison is mentioned in subsequent records of the church, indicating his continued affiliation during the next 19 years that slavery existed. Church minutes show on one occasion that he placed 50 cents in the collection plate. That was considered a substantial contribution in that era and perhaps an exceptional one, from one classified as a slave. He and his wife were responsible citizens, also known for their dependability and loyalty, especially to the woman who had gone with Madison to Georgia to buy the girl from bondage so she could become his wife.

When the war Between the States ended, 47 Potter plantation slaves were freed. But several of them remained nearby to engage in farming or other work. Addie Horne, an infant girl, was the last child to be born into slavery on the plantation. She remained with her mother in the household of the widow of William R. F. Potter, who was killed at Chickamauga. The little girl often remained, while her mother worked, in the care of Alexander W. Potter (her senior by five or six years), the lone surviving child of Mrs. Potter and late husband William R. F. Potter. Addie grew up in the Potter household, as one of the family.

According to Sylvester Andrews, George and Ellen were property of William R.F. Potter. [1]"

From The Florida State Genealogical Society

"Levi POTTER and his brother Miles POTTER, arrived in Washington County, Florida about 1824 from South Carolina. Not much is known of their early lives nor of their parents. When Levi arrived in Florida he probably was marrried to __ LACY. He brought with him a large number of slaves and farming equipnent to farm the upper reaches of Holmes Valley. He built his home on the high sand hills that surround that valley, to avoid the mosquitoes and other insects of the lower and wetter lands. Levi and Miles were the largest slave owners in that primitive wilderness, producing nearly all of their needs. Levi served in the Florida Indian War in 1839 and his grave at the Potter Cemetery, Washington County, is marked with a U. S. Military headstone. The family cemetery still exists on land owned by the family. It is located in Section 21, Township 2 North, and Range 14 West in Washington County. Levi was voter

  1. 8 at Precinct #4 Washington County in the first statewide election 26 May

1845. The children of Levi and his wife were:

The Florida Pioneer Ancestors of William Homer Potter

"THE STORY OF LEVI POTTER (c. 1789- c. 1847)

The story of the Potter family in Florida begins with Levi Potter, the great-grandfather of William Homer Potter. His name, together with the names of Miles Potter and Robert Potter appear as heads of household in the 1820 South Carolina census for Sumter County. Levi, Miles, and Robert are believed to have been brothers and that they had two sisters named Mary and Letitia. Robert Potter is thought to have been in 1782, Miles Potter in 1785, and Levi Potter about 1789, all in South Carolina.
One source indicates that Levi, Miles, Robert, Mary, and Letitia were the five children of a Miles Potter Sr. and his wife, Sarah. The name of Miles Potter does appear as head of household in the 1790 and 1800 South Carolina census records. It is also known that a Miles Potter received a South Carolina land grant in 1786. This Miles Potter died in Sumter County, South Carolina, around 1804. Further research is needed in order to prove that Levi, Miles, and Robert were in fact the children of Miles and Sarah Potter.
A migration of settlers into Florida from Georgia and the Carolinas began after Spain succeeded Florida to the United States in 1819. This migration increased once the United States established the Florida Territory in 1821. Southward migration routes by both land and water were well established by the 1820s. Many early inhabitants of the Florida Territory came through Columbus, Georgia, and then went south into the Florida panhandle via the Chattahoochee River. Boat travel south on the Chattahoochee and north through the panhandle from the Gulf of Mexico on the Apalachicola River was common at the time.
Levi Potter migrated to the Florida Territory from South Carolina sometime around 1824. He probably came with Miles and Robert together with several other family members, including children and probably their mother. They brought with them a large number of slaves as well as wagons and farming equipment. The Potters possibly followed a combination of land and water routes on their journey. They may have followed the Chattahoochee River into the Florida Territory and the went overland to the west about fifty miles to reach the vicinity of Holmes Valley and the Choctowatchee River in what is now Washington County. It is easy to visualize the Potter family with their men, women, children, elders, slaves, wagons, supplies and farming equipment moving down river on barges into Florida after their long journey from South Carolina.
Washington County was created in December 1825 out of what was previously Jackson County. The Holmes Valley area was also briefly part of Walton County in 1824 and 1825. Many early county records were lost when the Jackson County Court House burned in 1848 and when the Washington County Court House burned in 1878.
Levi Potter was about thirty-five years old when he came to the Florida Territory. It is believed that he was married to Celia A. Lacy. They had five known children: Robert L. Potter (possibly born about 1823 in South Carolina), Frances Elizabeth Potter (born about 1825), William Rufus Franklin Potter (born about 1829), Joanna B. Potter, and Zelia A. Potter.
The names of Levi Potter, Miles Potter, and Robert Potter appear as heads of household in the 1830 census of the Florida Territory.
The Potters built their homes on the hills surrounding the northern end of Holmes Valley in order to escape the mosquitoes and other insects of the lower and wetter lands. Levi and Miles were among the largest slave owners in this primitive wilderness. The total population of Washington County in 1830 was probably about one thousand people, scattered over an area the size of Delaware. Only the hardiest of pioneers were able to persevere in the constant struggle against the Florida heat, insects, and Indian threats.
Miles Potter would have been about forty years old when the Potters came to Florida. It is believed that he married Susannah Dunford in 1828. Two of their children are known: a daughter Judge Ann Potter was born in 1830 and a son Lorenzo was born in 1843. Miles died about 1845 at around sixty years of age. Lorenzo Potter's name is listed in the Washington County estate records in the late 1850's as a minor heir of Miles Potter and with a guardian named Sharpless Evans.
Little is known about the rest of Levi Potter's life in the Florida Territory. One source states that he served in the Florida Indian Wars in 1839; he would have been about fifty years old at the time, however, and no documentation confirming this service in the Indian Wars has yet been found.
Levi Potter was a signer of a petition to the Congress of the United States in February 1842 which called attention to the poor condition of the road which passed through Holmes Valley and connected Pensacola to Marianna. The thirty-four petitioners declared that it was impossible for the residents of the area to keep this important road repaired and asked Congress for a small appropriation to be applied to fixing the road.
Levi Potter and Robert Potter are listed on the May 1845 voter roll for the first statewide election held after Florida gained statehood.
Washington County tax records in 1846 show that Levi Potter twenty slaves, three hundred and twenty acres of land, one hundred cattle and paid a tax assessment of $15.20. The tax records for the estate of Miles Potter in 1846 showed he had owned eighteen slaves and eighty acres of land and was taxed $9.50.
Church records from about 1846 list the names of five slaves from the Potter Estate who were baptized in the new Baptist Church of Holmes Valley. These were Harriet, Madison, Gibson, Louise and Mary.
Levi Potter probably died in 1847 at about the age of fifty-eight. He was buried in the Potter Family Cemetery in Washington County..."[3]

Family Researcher Richard Meyer

...William R.F. Potter was my wife's great-grandfather.I researched her family in 1997 and have a lot of information that you would find useful.

William R.F. Potter was the son of Levi Potter and Celia(?) Lacy.Levi had a brother Robert Potter and a son Robert L. Potter.

William R.F. Potter married Nancy Jane Pate around 1855 and they had three children: John Henry Potter, Walter Potter and Alexander Wilson Potter.John and Walter died in childhood, one in a fire and the other from snakebite, although I don't know which is which.

I have visited the battlefield at Chickamauga and located the actual field where his unit was when he was killed.I also have his military service records and muster records.... [4]


  1. http://www.bigfeettribes.com/Home/history-of-washington-county-fl
  2. https://flsgs.org/custom/maint/pioneer.php?id=1408
  3. The Florida Pioneer Ancestors of William Homer Potter, Meyer R. W. (Richard W.)- FL Gen R 929.42 MEY. Available in the Genealogical Section at the Bay County Public Library in Panama City, Florida.
  4. https://www.genealogy.com/forum/surnames/topics/potter/5485/

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