Dr. Joel Lycuequs T. Flanegan

Georgia’s Third Land Lottery allowed every bachelor, with three years residence in Georgia, one draw and every married man with like residence was allowed two draws. If such bachelor or married man was an invalid or indigent veteran of the War of the Revolution, he was allowed two additional draws. His military record was not limited to service in the State of Georgia. When entering his name for two veteran’s draws, the applicant was required to take the following oath: “I do further swear that I was an officer or soldier during the Revolutionary War, that I was engaged in the service of the United States, and that I am an invalid or indigent officer or soldier of the Revolutionary War.”

In Georgia’s Third Land Lottery (1820) Joel Lycuequs Flanegan’s father (Joel L. Flanegan, Esq.) drew and received Lot: 63 in Section: 11, Echols Military District, Walton County, Georgia i. After the Creek War (1814), Andrew Jackson demanded the secession of the southern third of present-day Georgia. A second section of land in northeast Georgia was included. This defined the eastern end of the Cherokee Nation for 12 years.

Joel Lycurgus Flanegan was born on October 30, 1818, probably in Walton County, Georgia. The Flanegan’s lived in Covington, Newton County, Georgia before Mr. Flanegan’s death on December 24, 1826. Joel’s father was justice of the Inferior Court at Covington, and owned extensive tracts of land on which Covington now stands.

On August 7, 1820, Joel Flanegin [sic] was living in Walton County, Georgia ii. Joel’s household consisted of one free white male less than ten years of age, one free white male between the ages of twenty-six and less than forty-five, three white females less than ten years of age, one free white female between the age of twenty-six and less than forty-five. One member of his household was a foreigner, not naturalized. At that time Joel did not own any slaves. A total of six people resided in this household.

On December 1, 1824, records at the Georgia State Archives indicate that Joel was a judge of the Inferior Court in Newton County, Georgia, as did the Newton County Marriage Records which indicate that he married a Joseph Dorsey and Mary Lee iii.

The following is a copy of a letter written by Joel Flanegan to G. N. Troup, Milledgeville, Georgia – Covington, Georgia – 27th Sept 1825. (This letter was found in the Georgia State Archives)

    Dear Sir,

    Your excellency will please inform us respecting arms for the volunteer Corps under the title Covington guard commanded by A. G. Fambrough Esq. Please state the requisitions to be complied with to obtain them. And if there is Sixty Stands of arms at the Indian Springs and if so will you forward an order authorizing the Captain commanding to draw them by complying with the usual terms.

    Your Attention to the above will much oblige us.

    Joel Flanegan, O. S.


Joel L. Flanegan, Esq. died on December 24, 1826, in Covington, Newton County, Georgia. Surviving him was his 46-year-olf wife Sarah, and three children. A 14-year-old daughter Elizabeth Ann Flanegan, a 12-year-old daughter Cordelia Flanegan, and an eight-year-old son named Joel Lycuequs T. Flanegan.

On June 1, 1830, Joel’s mother Sarah Flansgan [sic] was living in Newton County, Georgia iv. She’s listed as head of household. Located in her household is one free white male between the ages of ten and less than fifteen, one free white male between the ages of twenty and less than thirty, one free white female between the ages of five and less than ten, two free white females between the ages of ten and less than fifteen, two free white females between the ages of fifteen and less than twenty, and one free white female between the ages of fifty and less than sixty.

One male slave less than ten years of age, two male slaves between the ages of ten and less than twenty-four, one male slave between the ages of twenty-four and less than thirty-six, four female slaves less than ten years of age, one female slave between the ages of ten and less than twenty-four, and one female slave between the ages of twenty-four and less than thirty-six. There was a total of eighteen people residing in the household.

The Williams Academy Inc. was established at Van Wert (County seat) on December 28, 1833. The Trustees were: Woodson Hubbard, James M. Nettles, Marah Stedman, and Joel L. T. Flanagan. v

  1. L. Flanigan [sic] is wife, Mary Caroline Sansing Flanegan, and his mother Sarah Kirby Flanegan was living in District 950 of Paulding County, Georgia vi on June 1, 1840. Joel L. Flanegan and Caroline Sansing were married on November 27, 1840 in Paulding (Polk) County, Georgia by J. C. York, Justice of the Peace vii. Mary was young, but the practice of early marriages was common.

Van Wert claims to have had the first waterworks in Georgia. They bored holes in cedar logs and joined them together. They started at a big spring at the foot of the mountain and piped the water about three miles to the town. The man who made the water pipes received $300, or about $100 per mile. The first person to have water in his home was Dr. Flanegan, who bored a hole in the log and inserted a smaller log into it, and ran it through a hole in the wall of his house into a wooden trough inside. He bored a hole in the end of the trough for surplus water to run back outside through the floor. viii Between 1843 and 1859, Joel and Mary had nine children. Juliet T. York Atkins nee Flanegan (1843-1925), Joel Sansing Flanegan (1845-1933), Mary Elizabeth Hobbs nee Flanegan (1846-1933), Sarah Susan Dupree nee Flanegan (1848-1915), Benjamin Sansing Lycuequs Flanegan (1850-1852), Alexander Steven Flanegan (1852-1887), Martha Ann Cordelia Hobbs nee Flanegan (1855-1915), George A. Lycuequs Flanegan (1857-1858), and an unnamed son who was born and died on January 31, 1859.

Joel L. Flanegan, Mary C. Flanegan, Juliet T. Flanegan, Mary E. Flanegan, and Sarah S. Flanegan were all living in the 950th G.M. Enumeration District of Paulding County ix, Georgia on June 1, 1850. Joel’s occupation was that of a physician, and he had an estate value of $400. Joel practiced medicine in the Van Wert/Rockmart area for some time, before graduating from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta. x Living next door to them is a Dorcus Sansing and Joel L.? (Illegible ink smears on census records). For years the family scuttlebutt was that Joel was Dr. Flanegan’s base born son by Dorcus Sansing. The discovery of records located at the Georgia State Archives was to reveal the ugly truth behind this scuttlebutt. xi In the dwelling following Dorcus’s home Joel Flanegan’s mother, Sarah Flanegan, is living. She’s listed as a 69-year-old female who was born in North Carolina. Listed with her is a Dradsu [sic] Pace, a 18-year-old male laborer, who was born in Georgia. Joel is listed as owning a 19-year-old black female, a 16-year-old black female, and a one-year-old black female in the 1850 Slave Schedule for the 950th District GM of Paulding County, Georgia. xii

On June 1, 1860, Joel L. Flanegan is living in the Van Wert Post Office area of District 1072nd GM in Polk County, Georgia. xiii Joel is a 41-year-old physician with a real estate value of $2,000, and a personal estate value of $9,000. Living with Joel is his second wife, 36-year-old Elizabeth A. Flanegan nee Clark, Mary Elizabeth Flanegan, his 14-year-old daughter, Sarah Susan Flanegan, his 12-year-old daughter, Alexander Steven Flanegan, his 7-year-old son, and Martha Ann Cordelia Flanegan, his 5-year-old daughter. All the children were by his first wife, Mary Caroline Flanegan nee Sansing. Joel owned the following slaves: one 25-year-old black male, one 25-year-old black female, one 23-year-old black female, one six-year-old black female, one five-year-old black female, and one three-year-old black male. The 3-year-old black male is listed for being a fugitive from the state.

In the 1860 U.S. Census entry for George Atkins xiv listed Alexander Flanegan living with George in Van Wert Post Office of Polk County, Georgia, as a laborer. I have yet to find a record for Elizabeth Flanegan for the 1870 census.

Doctor Flanegan’s first wife Mary, died on February 16, 1859, and she is buried in the Van Wert Cemetery. Dr. Flanegan then married Elizabeth Ann Clarke on June 6, 1860 in Polk County, Georgia. xv Elizabeth Ann Clarke was born on September 11, 1823.

Dr. Flanegan and Elizabeth were not destined to live together long, as Dr. Flanegan died on January 6, 1863. T. P. Campbell, a local blacksmith and carpenter, made Dr. Flanegan’s coffin and case for $18.00. Mr. Campbell’s services were used frequently for shoeing the horses and mending gates, etc. On July 23, 1863, he charged $10.00 to build “Coffin and case for a child.” On that same date there was a bill for 2- ½ yards of black cambric “for shrouding Mr. Flanegan’s child.” Prior to this, in May 1863, were listed many prescriptions for Mrs. Flanegan, and on July 26th there was a charge for lancing her breast (was this a baby born after its father’s death?). Mrs. Flanegan recovered, and lived until June 7, 1901. She was buried beside Dr. Joel and his first wife.

Apparently, Dr. Flanegan died without a will, because on March 1863 there is listed in the Polk County, Georgia “Book of Administration and Guardian Bonds” a record of William W. Simpson, William M. Phillips, and Isaac N. Jones being appointed administrators to “carefully collect and preserve from waste and loss all the goods, chattels, and effects of the said Joel L. Flanegan, deceased.” On April 7, 1863, there was held a crying sale for the Flanegan estate. There were additional entries in December 1863, and January 1864. In the book of annual returns for the Polk County Court of Ordinary for the years 1864 through 1873 are seven pages, listing the debts and expenses for taking care of Dr. Flanegan’s estate, widow, and children.

The 1880 U.S. Census entry for Leander Dupree, whose wife is Sarah Dupree nee Flanegan, has Ena Flanegan (eight-year-old white female listed as niece) and James Flanegan (five-year-old white male listed as nephew) living with him. xvi

On July 4, 1881, in the Polk County Court of Ordinary, William W. Simpson was finally relieved from forfeiture of his commission as administrator. Mr. Simpson did not make his final return on Joel L. Flanegan’s estate earlier because “the whole of the voucher was lost or misplaced until within the last two or three months when he obtained only a part of the same . . . he had come to the conclusion that said the federal troops had destroyed vouchers in the last war and yet believe they so destroyed a part thereof.”

Elizabeth Ann Flanegan nee Clark passed away on June 7, 1901, and is buried next to her husband in the Van Wert Cemetery. Dr. Flanegan’s tombstone is flanked by his two wives, one of each side.

The following biography was written by his fourth great-grandson:

Joel Thomas Buchanan, Jr.

275 Spring Ridge Drive

Roswell, Georgia 30076


It appears on his web site at the following URL:


Dr. Joel L. Flanegan is an ancestor that makes genealogical research worth it, though for the wrong reasons. Besides being locally prominent as a physician and prosperous landowner, Dr. Flanegan made it into the records of his church, and indeed, even the minutes of the Supreme Court of Georgia. In both cases, it was for things out of the ordinary — entertaining to a point, but also tragic and instructive.

The records of the church — Van Wert Baptist Church in Polk Co., Georgia — are available in transcript at the Rome / Floyd Co. [Georgia] Public Library and seem to paint a picture of a man at odds with others often. He joined the fellowship with at least one of his slaves on Sunday evening, May 20, 1854, and within two months was an alternate for a district meeting. Then inexplicably, several months later, in January 1855, he sent a letter to the church asking that his name be removed from the rolls; investigation led to a charge that he had whipped his wife. By the following May, he returned to the church and acknowledged his sin and was restored to fellowship. Some of the records following are unclear, though it appears that he and his family asked for and were granted letters of dismission in the following November [of 1855], but remained or quickly rejoined. Almost immediately, in March 1856, he got involved in another dispute, this time with an R. W. Whitehead, and the church appointed a committee to investigate, which a month later made its report:

“We, your committee, recommend that the Church charge Brother Flanegan with unbrotherly conduct in trying to obtain a warrant against Brother Whitehead’s negroes without first going to see Brother Whitehead. And Brother Whitehead charges Brother Flanegan (from the report of his family) with coming to his house during his absence from home, and shooting his dog, and very much frightening his family. We also recommend that the Church charge Brother Flanegan with falsehood in denying the accompanying charge of Sister Whitehead, when we suppose it can be proven: ‘I charge Brother Flanegan with circulating reports derogatory to my Christian character and of using language unbecoming a lady, much less a Christian.'”

Dr. Flanegan, not to be outdone, wrote this classic response, which was read at the May 1856 meeting of the Church:

    “Brethren, you don’t wish me to live with you, neither do I desire to do so. Excommunicate me and I will be as much delighted as some of you will be gratified. Hoping that the Lord will smile upon you and me, and that we may at last meet where strife, envying, malice, hatred, and ungodly combination will never come. I am respectfully,

    Joel L. Flanegan”

The church complied with his request, some members no doubt being very pleased to do it!

What may or may not have been known within the Van Wert community as a whole was a particularly shameful liaison that had occurred a little over ten years before. Though married in 1840 to Mary Caroline Sansing, Dr. Flanegan had had an illegitimate child, Joel Sansing Flanegan, born September 20, 1845, by his wife’s sister Dorcas — and who had been only fourteen at the time of the forbidden affair! This had been the family rumor for over a century, but the rumor was finally confirmed as fact when the Reports of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Vol. 28 (1859), pp. 136-139 were examined and found to have made public Dr. Flanegan’s private shame. It started as a financial dispute in Polk Co. Superior Court in 1858, and went from there to Atlanta on appeal. Without going into the legal technicalities of the case heard by the Court in March 1859, it was made clear that Dorcas was the mother of the child, Joel, who was conceived while Dorcas was a ward under Dr. Flanegan’s guardianship, and that Dr. Flanegan was — by his own admission — Joel’s father.

We do not know for sure what effect this behavior had had on his family, though taken together with the wife-beating incident recounted above, it is probably safe to say that his was not a happy home. The son, Joel Sansing Flanegan, would grow up to have his own destructive defects of character, due no doubt in large measure to his father’s example. Dr. Flanegan’s case is so interesting, perhaps, because sin makes for interesting, “juicy” stories, even if for ultimately tragic ones. Perhaps it is interesting because people weren’t supposed to be like that back in the “good ole’ days.” Of course, there never were “good ole’ days,” and human beings — ever since our first parents hid under the cover of a garden in shame — have struggled with those things which would destroy their souls and lives if given the chance. His life is an earnest reminder of the power and gravity of our choices. Perhaps the greatest lesson of all is that life is a series of choices, and what you choose — in whatever arena of it, no matter how seemingly insignificant — determine what and who you will be, and ultimately, whose you will be in the end. All of life, I suppose, is a choice between life and death.


i. Lucas Jr., Rev. Silas Emmett, AThe Third or 1820 Land Lottery of Georgia,@ Southern Historical Press, Inc., Easley, South Carolina, Page:109.

ii. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M33, Roll: 10, Page: 122).

iii. Newton County, Georgia Marriage Records, Page: 39.

iv. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M19, Roll: 20, Page: 14).

 v. Northwest Georgia Historical and Genealogical Society, Volume: 2, Number: 2, Page: 18, dated: April 1970.

vi. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Microfilm Publication (Series: M704, Roll: 48, Page: 102).

vii. Dodd, Jordan ? [database online] Provo, UT: Ancestry.com, 1997, Georgia Marriages to 1850.

viii. Northwest Georgia Genealogy and Historical Society Volume 1, Number: 2, Page 3, April 1969.

ix. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M432, Roll: 80, Page: 102).

 x. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M432, Roll: 80, Page: 54B).

xi. Georgia Reports, Volume 28, 1859, March Term, Supreme Court of the State of Georgia, B. Y. Martin, Reporter.

xii. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M432, Roll: 94, Page: 54).

xiii. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M653, Roll: 134, Page: 64).

xiv. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: M593, Roll: 170, Page 283).

xv. Polk County Georgia Marriage Index, Book: A-1, Page: 168.

xvi. U. S. Federal Government, National Archives Records Administration Microfilm Publication (Series: T9, Roll: 161, Page: 237A).


Written by his second great-grandson: Clarence Atkins

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