Mary Jane Smith and the Poison Pork

In the fall of 1916 Mrs. Mary Jane Smith, of Nashville, GA came to visit her daughter, Rachel Smith Sirmans, at Ray City, GA.  It was late October and with the first frosts of the season, people’s thoughts naturally turned toward the harvest of fresh meat from hogs fattened over the summer. Hog slaughter was generally reserved for the coldest days of the year. But after a diet of cured meats over the long heat of the Wiregrass summer and perhaps with the  smokehouse stock nearly depleted, for many farms the first cool day would do for a hog killing.  This was perhaps the occasion of Mrs. Smith’s visit.

~~~~

Hog-Killing

In the  Ray City of 100 years ago, winter was the season for hog killing as mechanical refrigeration was not available and there were no real facilities for cold storage.

In the 1920s, the Clements Lumber Company operated a cold storage facility and Ray City built a municipal electric plant in 1922, but dependable home electric service and electric refrigerators would not be available in the town until the 1930s.    Before that, most kitchens were equipped with  an “icebox” – a wood or metal cabinet insulated with straw or sawdust. A compartment near the top could be loaded with a block of ice to cool perishable food stored on lower shelves. Water from the melting ice was collected in a pan below the cabinet.  The ice kept the interior of the box far cooler than room temperature, but certainly no where near freezing.  As the ice block melted, it had to be continually replaced. Even small towns like Ray City had ice delivery men, such as Wilbur and Walter Aultman, or Ferris Moore, who regularly supplied ice to local homes and businesses (see Ferris Moore ~ Ray City Iceman).

In The Art of Managing Longleaf, Leon Neel describes  the practical and social significance of hog killing time in Wiregrass Georgia:

Hogs were a staple and we always had hog killings.  The families would get together to kill a hog or two when the weather was right, and then we would smoke our own meat.  Hog killing was a great time. Hogs were killed in cool weather, because pork spoils so easily.  The colder it was, the better it was for hog killing. But lots of times, the stored food would run out early, and we would have to kill hogs before it got to be the dead of winter.  Hog killing was a full-day’s process, and everybody had a job – the men folk, the women folk, everybody.  The process got started early in the morning.  Daddy had a little .22 rifle, and he usually shot the hog between the eyes.  Then we processed it right then and there. We had a big syrup kettle, and for hog killing time we would fill it with water and build a fire under it to get it boiling.  Then we put the hog in the kettle, which scalded it and made it possible to get the hair off with any trouble. Then we butchered the hog.  It is true what they say: Every part of the hog was utilized, everything but the squeal.  Hog killing was hard work, but it was also a great social occasion. 

For Mary Jane Smith  the visit with her daughter in Ray City was a homecoming of sorts.  She and her husband, John Woods Smith, had formerly been residents of Ray City.

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith was born Mary Jane Whitehurst, a daughter of James Whitehurst (1818-1914) and Sarah Ann Findley (1822-1914). She was born on July 7, 1848 in that part of Lowndes County which in 1850 was cut into Clinch County, GA . Her father’s place was on Land Lot 516 in the 11th Land District,  just east of the Alapaha River near Cow Creek.  Her father later moved to Berrien County and settled on the east side of the Little River where he established a grist mill and operated a ferry across the river.  For several years he had the contract to carry mail on the Star Route from Nashville, GA to Alapaha.

About 1866, Mary Jane married John Woods Smith  in Clinch County, GA.  He was a veteran of the Confederate army, having enlisted March 4, 1862 in Company G, 50th Georgia Regiment.   His time in active duty had been marked with sickness. Within months of his enlistment he had become so sick he was sent to the hospital at Macon,  GA. In June of 1862 he was given leave to “escort the dead body of a comrade home. ”   He returned to his unit but by the end of the year he was again on sick furlough.  He was sick yet again in June of 1863,  with typhoid fever.  This time he was sent to Chimborazo Hospital No. 2 at Richmond, VA then transferred to Jackson Hospital where he was diagnosed with pneumonia.  By the fall he had recovered sufficiently  to return to his unit, but on November 29, 1863 he was captured near Knoxville,  TN.  He was sent to the military prison at Louisville, KY as a prisoner of war,  then on to the notorious Camp Chase, Ohio where he was imprisoned for two years.   In March of 1865, he was transferred to Rock Island Barracks, IL  and from there he was released in a prisoner exchange.  He was  admitted to the Confederate General Hospital No. 9 at Richmond, VA where he recuperated before returning home to Berrien County, GA.

For a short while Mary Jane and John Woods Smith made their home in Clinch County, but by 1880 the couple had moved to Berrien County, GA.  In 1890, their home was in the Rays Mill district, GMD 1144, where they were neighbors of Isabelle Sirmans and Andrew W. Turner and others of the Sirmans family connection.

Children of Mary Jane and John Woods Smith were:

  1. Osborn Levi Smith  (1867 – 1896), buried at Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA
  2. Rachel Allifair Smith (1869 – 1940),  married Jay Mitchell Sirmans, son of Hardeman Sirmans
  3. Susan Earlie Smith (1871 – 1960)
  4. Cassie Jane Smith (1874 – 1948),  married Lucius John Knight, son of Rhoda Futch  and George Washington Knight, buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
  5. William David Smith (1876 – 1887)
  6. Barzilla Newton Smith (1878 – )
  7. Sarah Levinia Smith (1880 – 1964), buried at Pinecrest Cemetery, Vidalia, GA
  8. Mary Ann Smith (1882 – 1965), married Henry J. Parrish
  9. John Dixon Smith (1884 – 1943)
  10. Martha Missouri Belle Smith (1887 – )
  11. Kissiah Amanda Smith (1889 – )

Mary Jane’s eldest daughter, Rachel Allifar Smith,  was married  to Jay Sirmans on March 22, 1893. He was son of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight. Rachel and Jay made their home and farm near Rays Mill (now known as Ray City), GA next door to Jay’s father. By 1910, Mary Jane and John Woods Smith had moved from Ray City to Nashville, GA where they owned a home on Washington Street where they operated a boarding house.

Mary Jane’s husband, John Woods Smith,  died April 24, 1915 and was buried at the Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA. Mary Jane Smith died a year and a half later while visiting with her daughter, Rachel, at Ray City, GA.  The cause of death was “pork poisoning.”

Without refrigeration the home preservation of meats, especially pork,  presented challenges.  In The prevention of disease; a popular treatise (1916), Kenelm Winslow reported:

Pork causes poisoning because it is imperfectly preserved by salt or smoking, and is often eaten insufficiently cooked in sausage and other forms.  Four-fifths of all cases of meat poisoning are due to eating the flesh of animals suffering from one of the germ diseases…unfortunately the meat is not altered in appearance in such cases, nor is cooking by any means a sure preventative against poisoning. Even poisoning by meat which has decomposed from too long keeping is much more frequent in the case of animals diseased before slaughter.  Expert veterinary inspection of the various organs of slaughtered animals will detect disease and prevent the killing of sick animals for food, which is most apt to occur in small towns where meat for local use is not properly inspected. Poisoning from meat which has putrefied from long keeping is more common in warm months and in the case of chopped meat or sausage. Putrid meat is usually recognizable, if not chopped, by softness and bad odor, especially about the bones and fat.  Boiling, roasting, or frying lessens the danger from putrefying meat, but does not absolutely prevent it.  Proper refrigeration in the household, both before and after cooking meat, is essential in order to preserve it, otherwise it should be eaten fresh. It is also advisable to clean refrigerators frequently with a hot solution of washing soda.  The poisoning is due to toxins in poisons produced by germs which originate in diseased animals, or contaminate the meat after slaughter and grow luxuriantly when refrigeration is imperfect.

 

1916-mary-jane-smith

Tifton Gazette

Friday, October 27, 1916

MRS. MARY JANE SMITH

Mrs. Mary Jane Smith died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. Sirmans, near Ray City, Saturday night after an illness of only a few days, says the Adel News. Mrs. Smith died of poison, some pork which she and Mrs. Sirmans had eaten, violently affecting them. Mrs. Sirmans was very ill for a time.

Mrs. Smith was the mother of eleven children, nine of whom survive her. Among her children are Mrs. Sirmans, Mrs. H. J. Parrish and Rev. John D. Smith, of Morven. The deceased was reared in this county and was sixty-nine years of age. She was a devoted member of the Methodist church. The funeral services and burial took place at Nashville Monday, the services being conducted by Rev. J. Harwell House, of Ocilla.

 

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Mary Jane Whitehurst Smith, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

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Lon Fender Loses Milltown Stills

Unknown turpentine still, early 1900s, Lowndes County, GA

Unknown turpentine still, early 1900s, Lowndes County, GA

Lon Fender was involved in some biggest business deals in the Wiregrass and in the history of Ray City.  Born William Alonzo Fender, he was a son of William Alfred Fender (1836-1920) and Susannah Allen (1841-1920), who became residents of Ray City in their senior years.  Lon Fender himself owned farmland near Ray City in the 1920s.

Lon Fender and his brothers were big-time Wiregrass timber men, and for decades the South Georgia newspapers were full of stories about land deals, sawmills, and turpentine stills operated by the Fenders.  In 1906, November  the Thomasville Weekly Times Enterprise and South Georgia Progress, noted that Lon Fender had purchased “the turpentine and timber interests of Clements, Lee & Co., at Milltown.  The property consists of 7,000 acres, 4,000 acres of which is “round” or unboxed timber, and 3,000 back-boxed, also stills, fixtures, mules, wagons, etc.  There are few finer bodies of timber lands now in Georgia lying as it does in one body, and its value is increasing every day.     Buyer and seller both decline to state the price paid for the property but it is believed that it was not much under $100,000.”

Two years later, the Tifton Gazette reported that Fender’s still at Milltown burned on October 21, 1908:

Tifton Gazette, Oct. 30, 1908 -- page 6

Tifton Gazette, Oct. 30, 1908 — page 6

Another account published in the Waycross Journal described the losses as “the turpentine still of W. L. Fender, with 35 barrels of spirits, and 100 barrels of rosin…destroyed by fire.” The Journal further  indicated that the robbery referred to occurred west of Milltown on the Georgia & Florida Railroad, making it likely that the actual scene of the robbery was Jim Swindle’s store at Ray’s Mill, GA.

Another fire struck the Milltown still in 1909:

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 19, 1909 -- page 9

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 19, 1909 — page 9

W.L. “Lon” Fender later purchased a large tract of timber near Ray City, GA,  known as the “Sirmans Timber.”

Civil War Letters of James Parrish

Confederate Letters of James W. Parrish (1847 – 1916)

June 5, 1864 letter from James W. Parrish to his wife Christiana DeVane Parrish.  Full image available at www.berriencountyga.com

June 5, 1864 letter from James W. Parrish to his wife Christiana DeVane Parrish. Full image available at http://www.berriencountyga.com

Provided below is the transcription of a Civil War letter written  June 5, 1864 by James W. Parrish.   The letter is one of a collection of five Civil War letters written by James W. Parrish during the summer of 1864, while he was serving with the Confederate  Army near Atlanta.  These letters have been published along with other Civil War letters at the Berrien County Historical Society website courtesy of John C. Futch.  The letters are addressed to his wife Christian DeVane Parrish, and mention or refer to Captain Godfrey, Thomas Ray, Eli Futch, Ansel Parrish,  Absalom Parrish, Thomas DeVane,  P. W. Sineath, Thomas Futch, and others.

James W. Parrish.  Image detail courtesy of www. berriencountyga.com

James W. Parrish. Image detail courtesy of www. berriencountyga.com

James W. Parrish was a son of Elder Ansel Parrish and Molcy Knight Parrish,   After the war he owned 295 acres  on land Lots #371  an 366 just west of Ray’s Mill (Now Ray City, GA), along with others of the Parrish family connection.  He was a neighbor of Noah Griffin who was residing on 245 acres of  Lot #371 with his family.

According to the 1921 Confederate Widow’s Pension Application filed by Christiana Parrish, James W. Parrish enlisted in April 1864 in Company K, 1st Georgia Reserves, at Nashville, GA.  His letters home show James W. Parrish was with his unit at Camp Georgia near Atlanta in May, 1864.

The following letter was written June 5, 1864:

Camp Georgia Neare Atlanta Ga.

June the 5, 1864

Deare wife I once more imbrace the opportunity of dashing you a few lines which will informe you that I am in tolerable health. I truley hope this will come to hand in due time and find you all enjoying the best of health and as well satisfyde as the case will admit.  I will now say to you that I have but little newes that is reliable to write you more than what you see in the papers. we have a grate variety of newes here but we do not confidence were all of them.  we are still at the same place. we have all organised I think in companyes and Regments. Godfry is co. Captain, Thomas Ray, first Liutinant. we have a grate many woonded soldiers coming in here but there has not come any of the Berrien boys yet as I have herd of yet. Some of our men go to the hospital all most every day. There was a good rain here yesterday and after the rain slacked there was hevey fireing of the -nnon in the direction of our armey. we here the morning that Shurmans armey have fell back 10 miles. whether this is so or not I cannot tell. I will now say to you that I have made all the enquery I can about Eli. I have herd he had give out and was gone to the hospittle but wher I can not tell. It is thought by some that we will not stay here many days.  Gov. Brown have bin to see cos. twice. He says he will not keep us here eny longer than he can help. our county men I believe is all tolerable well. Let Mother and Ansel read this letter. I will close. You must write me all the newes. direct your letters to Camp Georgia near Atlanta, Ga  fifth ? Ga Militia care Cap Godfrey

Your loving husban

James Parrish

On July 2, 1864 the company was at a “camp in the woods” about ten miles west of Atlanta on the banks of the Chattahoochee River. On July 26 James W. Parrish wrote that was detailed as a company cook.  At the War’s end, his command surrendered at Goldsboro, NC, but James wasn’t with the unit at that time. According to the affidavit filed by his younger brother, Henry William Parrish, he was furloughed sick in Savannah in September, 1864. When he recovered, instead of returning to his unit he was detailed to a unit “hunting deserters” and was on that assignment when the war ended.

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Let Us Unveil

Following the WWI sinking of HMS Otranto , October 6, 1918, Berrien County sought to establish a permanent memorial to the soldiers who perished in the disaster. Of the 25 Berrien men killed in the Otranto disaster, two from Ray City, GA were  Ralph Knight and Shellie Loyed Webb.

 berrien-doughboy

While the country celebrated victory over Germany and the Central Powers, Berrien County struggled for funds to pay for a monument to its dead.  It stands today as an enduring reminder of those young men from Berrien who gave their lives in WWI. Located at the Courthouse Square, West Marrion Avenue at North Davis Street, Nashville, GA.

The Art Inventories Catalog of the Smithsonian Institution describes the monument titled “The Spirit of the American Doughboy,”  Viquesney, E. M., 1876-1946, sculptor:

“Figure of a World War I infantryman advancing through the stumps and barbed wire of No Man’s Land. He holds a Springfield rifle in his proper left hand, with peep site in rear, and a grenade in his upraised proper right hand. His uniform consists of an ammo packet, canteen, backpack, bayonet scabbard, gas mask and helmet. The sculpture sits atop granite base with shield shapes on each side and stars and stripes decorations. The granite pedestal sits atop a paved brick footing.”

“Funds for the sculpture were raised by a memorial committee headed by Rev. Perry T. Knight (Ray City, GA). The sculpture was erected between 1920 and 1923 and was dedicated ca. 1921 or 1922. It was left veiled until late 1923, pending completion of fund raising efforts. The sculpture was originally installed in the middle of Marrion Avenue, facing north approximately 50 feet west of where it now stands. It was moved in the early 1950s and rededicated when Marrion Avenue, Georgia Highway 129 was paved. A member of the Parrish family who had a monument carving company in Nashville possibly may have assisted in carving the base.”

 The following paragraphs are extracted from:

1918 Sinking of the Otranto Leads to Purchase of The Doughboy Monument for Berrien

By Skeeter Parker

Fund Drive Begins

As if the flu pandemic in 1918 were not enough, the pall of death hung even heavier over Berrien County at a time when the rest of the country was celebrating the end of hostilities in WWI. However,the local citizenry was determined that the soldiers’ names would never be forgotten, as it says on the Doughboy monument “LEST WE FORGET.” A monument fund was announced on the front page of Nashville Herald on November 29, 1918, and readers were told “Every public spirited man, woman and child in Berrien county should contribute liberally to this glorious cause.”

Because most of the Nashville newspapers from the 1920s were destroyed or missing when microfilming was done, details surrounding the Doughboy statue’s coming to Nashville mostly come from various internet sources. According to one of those sources the statue was ordered in the spring of 1921 and erected in the middle of Marion Avenue in late July or August 1921. Different sources also say that while the monument was installed in 1921 it remained under covers until 1923 when “payment for the sculpture and impressive base was completed.”

This is borne out by a January 18, 1923 article in The Nashville Herald in which the writer said:

“It is an everlasting shame and a matter to cause the people of these three counties to feel badly over that this handsome memorial now stands veiled, because it is not paid for.”

The reader should keep in mind that in October 1918 Cook and Lanier Counties had not been formed yet and were still part of Berrien.

In January of 1923, Reverend Perry Thomas Knight  made a personal appeal to the people of Berrien County to pay off the final balance owed on the statue:

Letter to the Editor
Nashville Herald
January, 1923

Let Us Unveil

    There stands erected at Nashville, Ga., a suitable Memorial to the memory of the World War Veterans, but the veil must be lifted, “Lest We Forget.”

    J. W. E. Powell of Nashville has a complete record of every person who has donated to the Memorial Fund and the amount donated by each.

    If you have subscribed to the Memorial Fund and have not paid your subscription, please do so at once. Our boys did not fail us when they were called to service.

    We are writing the builders of the monument, asking that they give us until Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1923 to finish paying a balance of Two Thousand Dollars.

    Will you contribute $10.00 and by that be one of the Two Hundred to lift this obligation? Just as soon as the amount is sure to be in hand we will announce the day of the unveilling.

    Send your contribution to J. W. E. Powell, Nashville, and tell him what it’s for.  Do that today. We expect to have printed in the Nashville Herald, beginning next week, a list of the donors and amount given, until we reach the $2,000.

    Talk to your neighbor, to the stranger, to the Veteran, to the Everybody until we raise the money. It must be done.

    Send The Nashville Herald a card now saying: “I am one of the Two Hundred and will pay $10.00.”

    P.T. Knight 

Thomas Jefferson Sirmons Rests at Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery

Thomas Jefferson Sirmons was a son of Nancy Elizabeth Knight (1866-1938) and Moses Greyson Sirmons (1857-1928).  He was a grandson of Rhoda Futch and George Washington Knight, and a nephew of Perry Thomas Knight.

PRIVATE THOMAS JEFFERSON SIRMONS

PRIVATE THOMAS JEFFERSON SIRMONS
Nashville, Ga.

PRIVATE THOMAS JEFFERSON SIRMONS Nashville, Ga. Private Sirmons entered service July 16, 1918.  Was attached to Second Unit, Coast Artillery Corps, September Automatic Replacement Draft,  Ft. Screven, Ga. Embarked for over-seas the latter part of September,  sailing on the ill-fated transport “Otranto,” which was sunk off the Scottish Coast in a collision October 6, 1918. Private Sirmons was one of the soldiers drowned.

In 1940, Perry Thomas Knight wrote the following notes about Thomas Jefferson Sirmons:

“Thomas J. Sirmons b. May 26, 1892 enlisted as a soldier in the World War and on his trip over seas on October 6, 1918 went down with the ship Otranto.  His body was buried on the coast of Scotland on the Isle of Isly and two years later his body was exhumed and brought back to his home at the expense of the United States of America and he was buried at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Berrien County, Georgia.  The compiler of these records attended his funeral. He was buried with military honors.”  – Perry Thomas Knight

Graves of Otranto men at Kilchoman, Islay

Graves of Otranto men at Kilchoman, Islay

Two years after his death in the sinking of HMS Otranto the body of Thomas Jefferson Sirmons was returned to the United States and re-interred at Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery, about 9 miles northeast of Ray City, GA.  Another victim of the Otranto disaster, Shelley Loyd Webb, waited in a grave on Islay Isle for ten years before being brought home to rest.

Grave of Thomas Jefferson Knight, Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Thomas Jefferson Knight, Mount Pleasant Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source: Charles T. Zeigler (see http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=90451556 )

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October 1, 1908 First Train Rolls into Rays Mill, GA

On Thursday, October 1, 1908  the very first train rolled into Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railroad. It was an exciting day in the Wiregrass and when the train stopped at the Ray’s Mill depot. Nearly one hundred people boarded for the excursion to Valdosta.

An Engine of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/147454

An Engine of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/147454

The Valdosta Times reported on the great celebration upon the arrival of the train in that city.  Among the  G & F passengers on the very first northbound train rolling out of Valdosta was Louis Malone Bullard, son of Green Bullard and husband of Dollie Howard Knight.

Valdosta Times
October 3, 1908

A BIG CROWD ON EXCURSION

Valdosta’s Neighbors Celebrate Opening of New Railroad.

Nearly Six Hundred People Came to the City Today on Excursion Over the Georgia and Florida Road From Points North of Here – The Visitors are Given a Cordial Welcome.

(From Thursday’s Daily. [October 1, 1908])

The excursion over the Georgia and Florida railroad today, marking the opening of the new line, brought big crowds to Valdosta.  Our neighbors paid us a visit, and Valdostans extended them a cordial greeting.
 The train from Hazlehurst reached the city about 12:30 on schedule time. It was  met at the turnout on the new road by a committee of twenty-five citizens, carrying badges with which to tag the excursionists. Mayor Roberts boarded the engine at the crossing and brought the train into the city, with the whistle blowing and bell ringing every foot of the way.  At the depot the excursionists, numbering nearly six hundred people were formed in line and marched up Patterson street and to the Odd Fellows Hall on Central avenue, where a splendid lunch had been prepared.  The ladies in the party, numbering about one hundred and fifty, were met by a committee at Pinkston’s store and carried up stairs where refreshments had been prepared for them.
 No pains were spared by the committee in charge of the entertainment for the visitors, to make the occasion a pleasant one.  The lunches at both places were simply splendid, and enough had been provided to feed even a larger crowd.
 After dinner there were a number of speeches at the Odd Fellows’ Hall, Judge W. H. Griffin welcoming the visitors to the city in a ten minute talk which was applauded to the echo.  Prof. McDonald, of Douglas, made a splendid speech expressing the appreciation of the people along the new line for the cordial welcome given them by the citizens of Valdosta.  He was followed by Col. Smith, of Nashville, who added his praise to that of the hundreds who had given the occasion their unqualified endorsement.
 Every town on the new line was represented in the excursionists. Hazlehurst, Douglas, Willacoochee, Nashville, Ray’s Mill and all of the other towns sent representative crowds.  One hundred and seventy-two came from Nashville and nearly a hundred boarded the train at Ray’s Mill.
Between seventy-five and one hundred came up on the early train from Madison and the towns between here and there.
The visitors have a half day to spend  in the city, as the train on the return trip does not leave until six o’clock this afternoon.

First Train.

    The first passenger train of the Georgia and Florida going north left out of Valdosta this morning at about 8:30 o’clock.  It was the accommodation train No. 20, and carried several freight cars and a passenger coach.
    No 20 met the excursion train coming from Hazlehurst, at Nashville.
    Several passengers got aboard.  Some for Mathis, some for Ray’s Mill and others for Nashville.  Among the passengers were J. R. Fitzgerald, Garland Wilkinson and L. M. Bullard.
    Those who watched this first train going north from Valdosta over the new route of the Georgia and Florida, realized the dream of leading Valdostans for years.
   This might well be called the birthday of the new era for the city’s prosperity, as the Georgia and Florida opens up a vast territory that was hard for Valdosta to reach heretofore.
    When completed the road from Madison to Augusta will touch many good towns but among them all it will have no better friend than Valdosta.

-30-

G & F Railroad To Open with Big Excursion

Road opens with big excursion

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Georgia and Florida railroad prepared to open. Atlanta Georgian and News, Sep. 26, 1908

Atlanta Georgian and News
September 26, 1908

To Open Road With Big Excursion

Valdosta, Ga., Sept. 26. – The businessmen of Valdosta held a meeting at the city hall yesterday afternoon for the purpose of perfecting arrangements for the entertainment of the people along the line of the Georgia and Florida railroad who are coming to this city on the big excursion which the road will run next Thursday. This event will mark the opening of a passenger schedule on the new line between Hazlehurst and Madison, Fla., via Valdosta, and it is said that hundreds of persons are coming to this city from the different towns along the line. Many of them will be strangers who have never visited Valdosta, and all will be given a royal welcome.
The track-layers on the gap of the line between Valdosta and Nashville joined the rails near Rays Mill last Saturday and this week has been spent in surfacing the roadbed and getting ready for the passenger schedule to go on October 1. The road is now in operating order from Hazlehurst to Madison, Fla.

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

First Regular Train on the G & F, The Valdosta Times, September 26, 1908 Pg 5

The Valdosta Times
September 26, 1908

Many are Coming Next Week

First Regular Train on G. & F. will Bring Large Crowds

It Will Arrive From Hazlehurst Next Wednesday with Five Hundred Excursionists to Spend the Day in Valdosta – Crowd Will be Entertained Here.

The first regular passenger train over the Georgia and Florida railroad will reach this city next Wednesday at noon from Hazelhurst, Ga.
The train will leave Hazlehurst that morning at seven o’clock and it will come through by Broxton, Douglas, Willacoochee, Nashville and other places, taking up a crowd of people at each station and bring them to Valdosta to spend the day.
The first train will be devoted exclusively to the white people and the officials of the road are working up the crowd to come here. It will consist of the best class of people between here and Hazlehurst, and the citizens of Valdosta have already decided to arrange some line of entertainment for the visitors.
A meeting will be held tonight to take up the matter and discuss what line of entertainment shall be arranged. It has been suggested that open-house be kept for the visitors and that lunches be prepared and served to them. One suggestion was to tag every guest with a badge, which should admit him to the place where refreshments are to be served. Another suggestion was to have the dinner prepared when the guests arrive and serve it to the visitors in a bunch, so that the citizens of Valdosta will have a better opportunity to meet them and talk with them.
The details of the entertainment will be arranged later, it having already been decided to make it all that it should be. Valdosta never lags when a test of hospitality comes and every citizen will do his part toward welcoming to the city the people on the line of road above here.
It is very probable that the meeting tonight will decide all about what kind of entertainment will be given the visitors.

Cauley Hammond Shaw was Ray City Police Chief

Cauley Hammond Shaw (1883-1961)
Ray City Police Chief, 1914

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and www.berriencountyga.com

Cauley Hammond Shaw. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and http://www.berriencountyga.com

In 1914 Police Chief Cauley Shaw was the officer responsible for law and order in Ray City, Ga.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law by Bryan Shaw, relates that Cauley H. Shaw served as Deputy Sheriff in Berrien County, 1907; Nashville Police Chief, 1908; Milltown City Marshal, 1910; Douglas Police Chief, 1911; Ray City Police Chief, 1914; Willacoochee Police Chief, 1920; and was the first motorcycle police officer in Valdosta, GA.

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Shaw Family Newsletter: In the Name of the Law

Cauley Hammond Shaw was born November 5, 1883, a son of Charlton Hines Shaw and Rebecca Jane Devane.  As a boy, he attended the local schools through the 7th grade. In the Census of 1900 Cauley H. Shaw, age 16, is enumerated in his parents’ household. His father owned a farm near Adel, GA where Cauley assisted with the farm labor. Cauley’s elder brother, Lester H. Shaw, worked as a teamster, while his younger siblings attended school.

As a young man, Cauley Shaw entered the profession of  law enforcement, serving as a Deputy Sheriff of Berrien County in 1907.   On January 16, 1907 he married Julia Texas Peters , in Berrien county, GA. She was the daughter of William Peters and Sarah Mathis, born May 20, 1883 in Berrien, GA.

A year later  Cauley accepted the position of Police Chief in Nashville, GA. The newlyweds were blessed with their firstborn child on February 21, 1908, a boy they named James C. Shaw. Tragically, their infant son died just six months later on September 3, 1908 and was laid to rest in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. The following year on October 24, 1909 Julia delivered a second child, Julian C. Shaw. Again, tragedy struck, the newborn surviving just a few weeks. The baby Shaw was interred at Cat Creek Cemetery.

In April of 1910, Cauley and Julia were found in Hazelhurst. GA. They were boarding in the household of Rebecca W. Barber, widow of Dr. John W. Barber. Cauley owned a barbershop where he worked on his own account. Soon, though, Cauley returned to police work, serving as City Marshal of Milltown (now Lakeland, GA) in 1910, and Police Chief of Douglas, GA in 1911.

In 1913 a third child was born to Cauley and Julia, a daughter they named Hazel Annie. By this time, Cauley Shaw had moved his young family back to Ray City, GA where he served as Chief of Police.

Bryan Shaw relates an incident report from the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

Again, January 22 , 1915:

 Officers at Ray’s Mill raided a skin game a few nights ago and brought in ten colored men and boys.

The first World War found Cauley Shaw and his family still in Ray City. On September 12, 1918 Cauley Shaw registered for the WWI draft in Ray City. Signing as Registrar on his draft card was the town pharmacist, C.O. Terry. He was 34 years old, medium height, medium build, with blue eyes and light hair. Cauley had given up  his position as Ray City Police Chief to Charlie H. Adams,  and was  employed in farming at Ray City.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

1918 Draft Registration for Cauley Hammond Shaw.

By the time of the 1920 census, Cauley Shaw had moved his family to Willacoochee, GA, where he had returned to law enforcement, working as a city policeman. When the Shaws were enumerated on January 2, 1920 they were renting a house on Vickers Street. The Shaw household consisted of Cauley, wife Julia, their seven-year-old daughter Hazel, and their niece Myrtie Smith, age eight.

The Valdosta City Directory shows, in 1923, Cauley and Julia Shaw were living in a home at 406 Floyd Street, Valdosta, GA.  Cauley was employed as a foreman. His cousin, Brodie Shaw, owned  home a few blocks away at 203 S. Lee Street, and was working as a “yardman” [lumber yard?].  By 1925, the directory shows  Cauley was back in police work for the city of Valdosta.  Brodie Shaw had moved even closer, to a home at 307 Savannah Street.

Some time before 1930, Cauley and Julia moved to Douglas, GA where Cauley had served as police chief in 1911. Cauley again took work as a city policeman. They first rented then purchased a home near the corner of Ashley Street and College Avenue.   In 1930, their daughter, Hazel, married John H. Peterson, of Douglas.

Julia and Cauley remained in Douglas, GA.  The census records show Cauley’s 1940 salary as a police officer there was about  $23 dollars a week.

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and www.berriencountyga.com

Family of Cauley Hammond Shaw , circa 1953. Left to right John Henry “J.H.” Peterson, Hazel Annie Shaw Peterson, Cauley Hammond Shaw, James Russell Peterson, Juliah Peters Shaw, Benajah Peterson, Mary Juliah Peterson. Front row: Sue Ellen Peterson, John Hammond “Pete” Peterson. Photo courtesy of Susie Peterson and http://www.berriencountyga.com

Julia Peters Shaw died March 16, 1956.   Cauley Hammond Shaw died in Douglas, GA on March 28, 1961.  Both are buried in Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes county, GA.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.  Image courtesy of  Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

Graves of Cauley Hammond Shaw and Julia Peters Shaw, Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA. Image courtesy of Cullen and Jeanne Wheeler.

 

The Ray City Skin Game

Skin Game

The Nashville Herald briefly reported in the January 22, 1915 edition:

 Officers at Ray’s Mill raided a skin game a few nights ago and brought in ten colored men and boys.

According to Bryan Shaw’s In the Name of the Law, the Ray’s Mill officers at the time were Cauley Shaw and Bruner Shaw.

Ray City Police Officers, Cauley and Bruner Shaw.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Ray City Police Officers, Cauley and Bruner Shaw. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia (1897)  provides the following definition:

skin game – n. A game, as of cards, in which one player has no chance against another, as when the cards are stacked or other tricks are played to cheat or fleece; any confidence-game.

The Online Etymology Dictionary adds:

skin game – In 19c. U.S. colloquial use, “to strip, fleece, plunder;” hence skin-game, one in which one player has no chance against the others (as with a stacked deck), the type of con game played in a skin-house.

Skin games were operated from towns large and small, New York City to Ray City.

the-skin-game

At the gambling table.

Title: Migratory laborers and vegetable pickers playing "skin" game in back of juke joint and bar in the Belle Glade area of south central Florida. Image source: Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000037636/PP/

Title: Migratory laborers and vegetable pickers playing “skin” game in back of juke joint and bar in the Belle Glade area of south central Florida. Image source: Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa2000037636/PP/

In Lights and Shadows of New York Life,  James D. McCabe describes the skin game:

In gambler’s parlance, it is called a “skin game.”  In plain English it means that the bank sets out to win the player’s money by deliberate and premeditated fraud… Here every guest must stake his money at the risk of encountering personal violence from the proprietor or his associates.  The dealer is well skilled in manipulating the cards so as to make them win for the bank always, and every effort is made to render the victim hazy with liquor, so that he shall not be able to keep a clear record in his mind of the progress of the game.  A common trick is to use sanded cards, or cards with their surfaces roughened, so that two, by being handled in a certain way, will adhere and fall as one card.  Again, the dealer will so arrange his cards as to be sure of the exact order in which they will come out.  He can thus pull out one card, or two at a time, as the “necessities of the bank” may require.  Frequently no tally is kept of the game, and the player is unable to tell how many turns have been made—whether the full number or less.  Even if the fraud is discovered, the visitor will find it a serious matter to attempt to expose it.  The majority of the persons present are in the pay of the bank, and all are operating with but one object—to get possession of the money of visitors.  The slightest effort at resistance will ensure an assault…


James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon

James Dewey Calhoun was born about 1904 near Ray City, GA.  His grave marker in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA gives his birth date as June 22, 1904, but his Social Security records listed his date of birth as June 22, 1901.  Census records place his date of birth variously at about 1902, 1904, or 1907.  Based on the research of family members, the 1901 date is probably the most accurate.  He was a son of Samuel Augustus Calhoun and Rachel Bullard, and a brother of Joseph Burton Calhoun. The image detail below, of James Dewey Calhoun and his father,  is believed to date from around 1907.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus "Gus" Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun as a young boy with his father, Samuel Augustus “Gus” Calhoun. Image detail courtesy of Mitchell Calhoun.

James Dewey Calhoun first appears in the census records in 1910, enumerated as “Dewey.”  He was one of nine children in his parent’s household at Ray City, GA. Samuel’s mother was Rachel Bullard Calhoun, a daughter of  Luvellia Ray and Mack Bullard.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/13thcensus1910po172unit#page/n640/mode/1up

In the 1920s the Calhouns were living  at Ray City, GA  where Dewey’s father rented a place on the Valdosta & Ray City Road. Dewey had a common school education, but by age 12  he was working on the Calhoun farm assisting his father with farm labor along with his brothers. Just around the corner from the Calhoun place was the farm of Elias M. “Hun” Knight, businessman of Ray City and owner of the Mayhaw Lake Resort.

1920-census-james-dewey-calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/14thcensusofpopu235unit#page/n312/mode/1up

James Dewey Calhoun married Mary Elizabeth Brogdon on Saturday, November 24, 1928 in Berrien County, GA.  The ceremony was performed by John G. Hall, Justice of the Peace. Dewey was 21 and Mary was 18 at the time of their marriage. She was a daughter of Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley. Like Dewey, she had a common school education through 7th grade.

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

Marriage certificate of J. D. Calhoun and Mary Brogdon, November 24, 1928, Berrien County, Georgia

After marriage Dewey and Mary Calhoun made their home in the Lois precinct of the 1329 Georgia Militia District (Connell’s Mill District), where they began raising crops and children.  Dewey rented a farm next door to the 260 acre farm of Minerva Futch and John L. Allen.   The Allen place (formerly the farm of Jehu Patten) was on  land Lot  454 of the 10th land district (see map), located just southwest of Ray City, near the farms of  Francis Marion Shaw,  Lacy Shaw, and Jesse Shelby Shaw (see http://www.audubon4tet.com/FMS/21_John_Levi_Allen.pdf).  Lon Fender, one of the big timber men  and turpentine operators of the Wiregrass, was also renting a farm nearby.   The census taker who visited the Calhoun family to take their enumeration in 1930 was Perry Lee Pittman.

 

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1930 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

https://archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n512/mode/1up

By the 1940s Dewey and Mary had moved their family to Alapha, GA where they rented a home on “Nashville and Nashville” road for $5.00 a month.

1910 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

1940 census enumeration of James Dewey Calhoun

The employment data from the 1940 census shows Dewey was working 24 hours a week for the WPA while Mary kept home and the children attended school. In late 1938 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began construction of a gymnasium for the public school in Alapaha, GA.

The Work Projects Administration was one of FDR’s New Deal programs, and the census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief. The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education. The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests. http://1940census.archives.gov/about/

Other Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects in Berrien county include an annex added to the west side of the Berrien County Courthouse in 1938. In 1940, WPA workers assisted with the construction of the lunchroom at the Ray City School.  Bill Outlaw described a WPA project digging a ditch in Buck Bay, then called Beaver Dam Bay, on the W.H. Outlaw farm previously known as the Jerry S. “Buck” Sutton Old Home place (See Bill Outlaw’s   Georgia Centennial Farm application for the W. H. Outlaw farm  for interesting commentary on Berrien County farm life over the last 150 years). WPA instructors were also involved with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Homerville, GA  where Ray City and Berrien County men were working.

Later the Calhouns were back at Nashville, GA. Census data beyond 1940 has not yet been released,  but school photos from the 1950s show  Mary and Dewey Calhoun’s  children continued to attend at the Nashville public schools.

Children of Mary Elizabeth Brogdon 1909 – 2002 and James Dewey Calhoun (1901-1980)

  1. Charles Rex Calhoun 1929 – 2000
  2. Martha Virginia Calhoun 1933 – 2005
  3. James Dewey “J.D.” Calhoun 1937 – 2013
  4. Howard Vinson Calhoun 1939 – 1979
  5. Densil Calhoun 1944 – 2008
Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Rex Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, attended 1st grade at Nashville Public School, 1936-37. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Class photos from 1954 show Densil Calhoun was attending school at Nashville Elementary.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo,  1954, Nashville Elementary School.

Densil Calhoun, son of Dewey Calhoun, 4th grade school photo, 1954, Nashville Elementary School.

 http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/Schools/Nashville-Elementary/1954-Classrooms/17024719_X46qXD#!i=1288624316&k=fHz4KBF

The 1972 obituary of Joe B. Calhoun mentions that his brother, Dewey Calhoun was still residing in Nashville, GA.

James Dewey Calhoun died November 3, 1980. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  His widow, Mary Brogdon Calhoun, continued to reside at Nashville, GA but was a member of the Baptist Church in Ray City.  Mary died in 2002 and was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

 

for May 6, 2002

Mary Calhoun

NASHVILLE — Mary Calhoun, 96, of Nashville, died May 5, 2002, in the Memorial Convalescent Center of Adel. Born on Aug. 26, 1905, to the late Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley, she was a homemaker and member of First Baptist Church of Ray City. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Calhoun, who died in 1980, and two sons, Howard and Rex Calhoun. Survivors include one daughter, Martha Gurganious of Nashville; two sons, Densol Calhoun of Nashville and J. D. Calhoun of Jackson; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2002, in the chapel of Lovein Funeral Home with the Rev. Clarence Luke and the Rev. Fred Hesters officiating. Burial will follow in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Visitation is today after 4 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Lovein Funeral Home.

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of James Dewey Calhoun and Mary Elizabeth Brogdon, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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