John Mobley operated a small store of general merchandise at Evergreen, in Irwin County. The Indians had often traded with, and he had won their friendship and approval by honest dealings with them. John Mobley had married Nancy Pridgen, of Jacksonville, Georgia, a daughter of one of the pioneers of Telfair County, MARK PRIDGEN. The latter mysteriously disappeared, and it was always supposed he was murdered by the Indians.
At the time of the last Indian raid, Nancy Mobley had very young twin babies. Her twin sister, the wife of Thomas Swain of Jacksonville, came in a one horse cart across the river and urged her to go to Jacksonville for greater safety. This Nancy refused to do, as she was afraid her babies were too young to stand the trip through the swamp. The very next morning a little after daybreak, a slave came running into the Mobley home wild with terror, announcing that the Indians were coming. In a very few minutes the yard was full of red men in full war paint and feathers. Mobley went out and greeted them and told them that he was having breakfast prepared for them and urged them to tarry awhile and eat with him. The Indians, well pleased with this friendliness and hospitality, repaired to the well and removed their war paint, as their customs would not permit them to dine with a friend while in war regalia. After they had heartily partaken of the hasty meal prepared for them, they begged permission to see Mobley's wife and babies. After entering the bedroom they looked at the trembling mother and unsuspecting babies and said, "Me no hurt Mobley wife; me no hurt Mobley baby." Then they stalked stolidly out, donned their war bonnets and paint, went a mile further on and massacred a whole family of helpless white.
In front of the Methodist Church, formerly the courthouse square, in Jacksonville, Georgia, stands an historical marker that gives a brief history of Telfair County. Among other things, the marker states that the Pridgen's were one of the pioneer families of Telfair. We know this to be a fact since the records show that on April 15, 1811, the second term of the Superior court to be held in Telfair County was held at the home of Mark Pridgen, there being as yet no courthouse. A year earlier, on April 13, 1810, Thomas Pridgen, believed to be Mark's brother, was drawn as a petit juror for the first court held in Telfair.
Trying to trace the life of Mark Pridgen is very difficult due to the scarcity of records now available, however, a few incidents of his life have been found. His first appearance in records that I have been able to find was October 4, 1787, when he was listed as being in default on his taxes for the year 1787. He was living in Captain Lanier's District in Effingham County, Georgia. He served on the grand jury in Effingham on March ll, 1788. On July 27, 1793, he was still in Effingham, as he bore witness to a document freeing some slaves.
On December 14, 1793, the land upon which Mark lived was cut into Screven County, and again on February 8, 1796, became part of Bulloch upon creation of that county. Mark Pridgen was one of the first Justices of the Peace appointed in the new county. From 1796 through 1799, Mark's name appears often in Bulloch County records, usually as a witness in his role of J.P., but he also sold some land still located in Effingham County during this period.
Tattnal County was created on December 5, 1801, and during the period 1802-1804, Mark Pridgen's name appears in records of that county. As stated above, Mark appears in Telfair County as early as 1811. Mark's wife was named Sarah, but their marriage date, and birth dates are not known. It is believed that they had several children but the only ones for certain were twin daughters, Nancy and Rebecca, born about 1795. the twin girls were married as follows: 1. Nancy married Luke Mobley (1789-1835), on December 22, 1812, in Tattnall County. They later lived in Irwin County and had nine children. Mr. Mobley was a wealthy man at the time of his death. 2. Rebecca married Thomas S. Swain (1784-1840), about 1810. they made their home near Jacksonville in Telfair County. They were the parents of six children. Three of their daughters married two sons and a grandson of John Willcox (1777-1852). Mr. Swain was a wealthy man at his death.
Mark and his wife, Sarah, lived somewhat a stormy life. In a Savannah newspaper, ' The Columbian Museum and Savannah Advertiser,' datelined Tuesday, May 4, 1802, appeared the following notice: "All persons are hereby forbid trading with my wife, Sarah, as I am resolved to pay no debts of her contracting after this date," signed Mark Pridgen, Tattnal County. At the aforementioned court held at Mark's house in 1811, he was charged and convicted of adultery and bootlegging. His name again appeared in a Savannah newspaper in 1812 to the effect that he still owed back taxes in Bulloch County, In 1813 he and Sarah were in court over a property dispute. In a Telfair County court in 1816, Sarah sued Mark for divorce but lost the case. Shortly after that Mark disappeared and was never heard of again. It has always been believed that he was killed by Indians, but no proof of this exists. the last time we hear from Sarah was February 13, 1819, when she sold a Slave to Thomas S. Swain for his daughter Susannah. Her death and burial place is not known.