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David E. Paterson

shoe- and harness-maker, businessman, and community leader, was born in Georgia to parents whose names and occupations are unknown. Called simply “Guilford,” he was enslaved to Benajah Birdsong in Jasper County, Georgia. Birdsong died in 1824, and his widow inherited Guilford before she married James Spier, an Upson County merchant-farmer, in 1827. Guilford came to live and work in Thomaston, the legal and commercial center of Upson County.

Guilford married his first wife, Ellen, after she arrived in Thomaston from Columbia County about 1830. Their child, Susan, was born about 1831. Ellen and Susan were both slaves of George Cary, a onetime Georgia congressman, and, after his death, of his son John J. Cary. The younger Cary's chronic financial distress was a long-standing threat to Guilford and Ellen's family.

Spier moved Guilford to his farm Hurricane Place about ...