By Kimberly Brigance
Director of Historic Resources & Programs, Heritage Sandy Springs
In the Old Testament, Job is presented as a family man who is eventually beset with horrendous disasters that take away all he holds dear, including his offspring, his health and his property. Job struggles to understand his situation and begins a search for the answers to his difficulties. Job Binion may have compared himself to the biblical figure many times in his long life.
At first glance, his family doesn’t seem significantly different than any of the other farming families that made up our community in the early 1860s. He had travelled south from Virginia with his father and brother and the rest of the extended Binion family. As a veteran of the War of 1812, he was entitled to two draws in the land lottery but it doesn’t appear he was lucky with either.
Like most others in the area, he bought parcels of land from lottery winners in the 1821-22 land drawings. Job and his large family began to work land near the Chattahoochee River not far from the current intersection of Roswell Road and Dunwoody Place.
By the late 1850s two of his three sons had moved further west, and two of his daughters were married. He was living a quiet life. We don’t know when the rifts began to appear between him and most of his neighbors. Perhaps it had been there all along, perhaps it didn’t start until he abstained from the secession vote of 1861. Whenever it started, by the time of the Civil War, Job Binion was known as a Union Man, not a popular stance in heavily Confederate Fulton County.
According to his neighbor Andrew Beaver, “Early in the war some threats came from Roswell secessionists to tar and feather him, then ride him out of town on a rail.” Binion replied that he would “use his shotgun on them,” and the threats came to nothing. Still, hard words are not soon forgotten. As much as possible, he stayed out of local politics.
Whether it was the approach of the Federal Army toward Sandy Springs and the hope that his allegiance to the Union would save his family and property or for purely political reasons, Job made the decision to move his family.
By July 1864, the Federal Army was swarming into the community. His property may have sustained damage from the cannon fire lobbed at Sandy Springs from the Roswell side of the river. His daughter, Ann, documented that soldiers foraged on her father’s land for any food or livestock they could take.
It was possible during one of the foraging raids on his property that Job convinced a federal officer to let his family refugee north. According to accounts from his daughter Emily, he planned to move out of the south, the only land he had ever known, to a northern state.
Through a war-torn countryside the elderly Job moved his wife and daughters to what he thought would be safety in Marietta, but after spending less than two months at the federal camp he and his wife died. Their heartbroken daughters abandoned plans to move north and returned to the devastated family farm in Sandy Springs.
Years later his daughters tried to get reparations for the destruction and looting of their family farm from the federal government. Even with more than 100 pages of sworn statements from his former neighbors testifying to his loyalty to the Union, the claim was denied.
The Binion family, once a prominent name in the community, began to fade away. Ann died soon after the war. Emily married into the Copeland family, and Elizabeth married into the Nance family.
Records on the Job Binion family are scarce, but we can know that he was a person of fierce resolve with a strong moral compass. Americans North and South were divided over the war. Every community and even some families were also divided. Our community was no different. Although a minority, some in Sandy Springs resisted the tide of Confederate sympathies and remained allied with the Union. Through Job Binion’s story we can help piece together a clearer and broader picture of what life was like in Sandy Springs during the Civil War.
To learn more about the war in our community, please visit “The Civil War in Sandy Springs,” exhibit at the Heritage Sandy Springs Museum located at 6075 Sandy Springs Circle. The museum is open Wednesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.heritagesandysprings.org