Moses Clements Lee

Mose Clements Lee was born November 14, 1916, the sixth child of William David Lee and Mollie Bell Clements. His siblings were Vivian Lee, Fannie Lee, Ruth Amanda Lee, Willie E. Lee, and Mary E. Lee.

Moses Clements Lee, of Ray City, attended the University of Georgia.

Moses Clements Lee, of Ray City, attended the University of Georgia.  1942 UGA photo

At the time of his birth, the family home was in a two-room log cabin near Ray City, GA. About 1917, his parents ordered a “Modern Home,” The Avondale, No. 151, from the Sears Modern Homes Mail Order Catalog. The materials were probably shipped via the Georgia and Florida Railroad to Ray City, then carried by wagon to the Lee farm about three miles east of town where the home was were assembled.

After completing high school Mose C. Lee attended the University of Georgia. He was employed as an airplane mechanic. On November 25, 1942 he enlisted in the Army at Fort Mcpherson in Atlanta. After the war he returned to UGA where he completed his Bachelor of Business Administration and graduated on June 14, 1946.

He later returned to make his home in Lanier County, GA.

Mose C. married Jeanelle Curry, of Greenwood MS and they made their home in Lanier County, GA.

Mose Clements Lee died in 1999 and Jeanelle died in 2006.  The Lees are buried at the city cemetery in Lakeland, GA.

Grave of Mose Clements Lee and Jeanelle Lee

Grave of Mose Clements Lee and Jeanelle Lee

Albert Ross Starling was Pastor at Ray City

Reverend Albert Ross Starling was pastor of an African-American church at Ray City during the early 1900s.  He also served as pastor of New Bryant Baptist Church in Milltown, and First Baptist Church of Waycross, and several churches in Brooks County.

Albert Ross Starling, 1920

Albert Ross Starling, 1920

Neither races nor nations rise or develop as a whole. It is all a matter of individual progress, and no race can rise above the level of the individuals of which the race is composed. It sometimes happens that the progress of a people is best illustrated for a given period by the life of some man cotemporary with that period. For instance, the life record of Rev. Albert Ross Starling, a successful Baptist minister of Waycross might be used to illustrate the progress of his people since the Emancipation, as he was born soon after the war and so represents in his own life and work practically the period of freedom. The date of his birth was April 10, 1867, and the place was in Brooks County. His parents were Joe and Martha (Calker) Starling. His maternal grandparents were Shiloh and Betsy Calker.  As a boy young Starling worked on the farm.

His education was begun in the local schools of Brooks and Thomas Counties. In 1890 he finished the Normal Course of the International Correspondence Schools at Scranton, Pa., and in 1918 he finished the Theological Course of Princeton University at, Princeton. Ind., and received from the institution the D. D. degree. He had grown to manhood before he became active in the work of the Church and was a man of thirty years of age with a family before he dedicated himself to the preaching of the Gospel. In 1898 he was ordained to the full work of the Gospel ministry by the Elizabeth Baptist Church of Brooks County and has since made a record which has endeared him to his people. His first pastorate was the New Zion Baptist Church which he served one year and repaired the church. Since then he has served a number of other churches which have prospered under his administration. He preached at New Macedonia for twelve years, bought land and built a new house of worship. He pastored Centenary seven years and remodeled the church. St. Paul five years and built a new church. One of his most successful pastorates has been the New Bryant Baptist Church at Milltown where he is now (1919) in eleventh year. With his coming the congregation took on new life and a commodious new house of worship was erected. An historical sketch of this has been published under the direction of the pastor. In 1913 he accepted the call of the First Baptist Church of Waycross, where he resides. The house of worship has been completed and the congregation strengthened. Other churches he has served are Ray City and Pleasant Hill.   Rev. Starling ministers to his people in every helpful way and grows in the esteem of his congregation from year to year. He is an effective speaker and has had a fruitful ministry. He is Clerk of the New Bryant Association and a trustee of Central City College.
As a young man and even in the early years of his ministry he taught school for more than a dozen years. More recently he has devoted his entire time to the work of the ministry. He is a regular attendant at the State and National Conventions.

Among the secret orders he is identified with the Masons, Pythians, Odd Fellows and is State Auditor for the Eastern Star.
His property interests are at Boston and in Brooks County. His experience as a teacher and preacher leads him to believe that the thing most needed by the race is efficient educational and religious work and leadership.

First_African_Baptist_Church_Waycross

First African Baptist Church, Waycross

 

Juanita King was at Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941

Juanita King was with her parents, James Ulmer King and Mabel King, at Pearl Harbor where Ulmer was stationed when the Japanese bombed on December 7, 1941.  In the days after the bombing, the women and children were all sent back to the mainland.  Juanita King came to Ray City, GA where she lived with Lessie Guthrie Miley, and her children, David and Diane.

Juanita King, daughter of Ulmer and Mabel King, lived in Ray City, GA as a young girl.

Juanita King, daughter of Ulmer and Mabel King, lived in Ray City, GA as a young girl.

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Huff Brothers of Ray City

Omar Alvin Huff  and Gerald Elvin Huff, of Ray City, GA were sons of Paul E. Huff and Mary Lou Lightfoot. Gerald Huff graduated from the Ray City High School with the Class of 1946.   The brothers attended Emory Junior College in Valdosta, Georgia in 1947-1948.  At Emory, they were classmates of Robert J. Starling.

Gerald E. Huff and Omar A. Huff, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

Gerald E. Huff and Omar A. Huff, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

 

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

The Huff brothers both transferred to the University of Georgia.  At UGA, Omar Alvin Huff studied law. He was a member of the Delta Theta Phi, National Law Fraternity and received his law degree with the class of 1950.  He later moved to Melrose, FL.

Gerald Elvin Huff received his Bachelor of Arts degree from UGA in 1950. After graduation, Gerald E. Huff returned to the Ray City, GA area and in 1952 coached the New Lois boys basketball team. He later moved to Orlando, FL.

Gerald Elvin Huff  of Orlando, FL, died February 25, 1993. He was buried at Greenwood Cemetery, Orlando, FL.

February 26, 1993

GERALD ELVIN HUFF SR., 64, 1401 S. Ferncreek Ave., Orlando, died Thursday, Feb. 25. Mr. Huff was a senior marketing representative for an insurance company. Born in Tift County, Ga., he moved to Central Florida in 1961. He was a Baptist. Survivors: wife, Emma Belle; sons, Jerry, Steve, both of Orlando; daughters, Ann Mims, Orlando, Lynn Roney, Lake Mary; brothers, Omar ”Pete,” Melrose, Mike, Lake Park; sisters, Thelma Waller, Ashburn, Ga., Lois Blair, Deltona, Betty Sirmans, Peggy Exum, both of Hahira, Ga.; six grandchildren. Carey Hand Garden Chapel Home for Funerals, Orlando.

 

Omar Alvin Huff (JD ’50) of Melrose, FL, died August 3, 2011. He was buried at Eliam Cemetery, Melrose, FL.

Omar Alvin Huff “Pete”
 Mr. Omar Alvin Huff “Pete” , 88, of Melrose, [Florida] passed away Wednesday August 3, 2011 at his son’s home in Hawthorne following an extended illness.

Mr. Huff was born in Chula, Ga. (Tift County) on Jan. 14, 1923 to the late Paul E. and Mary Lou (Lightfoot) Huff.  He had served in the United States Navy, and retired as a Manager in the Insurance Service Offices. He was a member of the Trinity Baptist Church and was active with the Campers on Mission.  His wife Helen, daughter, Betsy Huff Fritsch, daughter-in-law, Elizabeth J. Huff, and six siblings had preceded him in death.

Survivors are his children; Teresa Huff Jones (Ralph) of Green Cove Springs, Paul A. Huff (Barbara) of Interlachen, and Thomas G. Huff (Sally) of Hawthorne. He also leaves behind his sister, Peggy Exum of Valdosta, Ga.; 11 grandchildren; and many great-grandchildren.

A viewing for Mr. Huff will be held on Monday, Aug. 8, 2011 in the Jones-Gallagher Funeral Home from 6-8 p.m.  Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2011 at 10 a.m. in the Trinity Baptist Church with Pastor James Peoples and Pastor Scott Stanland officiating.  Burial will follow at the Eliam Cemetery in Melrose.

 

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The Family of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes

Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd were among the  pioneer settlers of  Berrien County, GA.

According to Huxford, the children of Aden and Nancy were:

1. Blansett “Blanche” Boyd, born 1823, married Henry Tison.
2. David Boyd, born 1827, married Anna Ford, October 27, 1858.
3. Aden Boyd, Jr. born  1829, married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook.
4. Lucinda Boyd, born  1832, married William Baldree, September 9, 1857.
5. Sarah Boyd,  born 1835, married Robert Lewis Taylor.
6. Mary E. Boyd,  born 1836, married Elbert J. Chapman.
7. Eliza H. Boyd, born 1838, married William J. Taylor, Jr., July 29, 1862.
8. William H. Boyd, born 1841, married – Tyson in Florida.

 Aden Boyd(1784-1864) was a son of David Boyd and Sarah Dabney. His father “was a Revolutionary soldier, enlisting in Culpepper County, VA, in Captain Ladson’s company, later being tranferred to Captain Clark’s company and serving under General Benjamin Lincoln at Charleston and Augusta.”

After the Revolution, David Boyd RS settled in Old Washington County, GA. His property there was later cut into Montgomery and Tattnall counties.

“Aden Boyd was born in Georgia in 1800 according to the 1850 census, but in 1784 according to his tombstone. His wife, Nancy, was born 1802 in this state according to same census, but her tombstone shows she was born 1790. They were married in Tattnall County, GA on December 19, 1819 by J.A. Tippins, Justice of the Peace.  The bride was formerly Nancy Sykes, daughter of Arthur Sykes (she had a brother of the same name), and had previously been married, so that her name in the marriage license appears as Nancy Jones.”

“Aden Boyd and wife immediately after their marriage, proceeded to Appling County and made their home there until about 1828-30, when they removed to Old Lowndes County. ” They settled in the portion of the 10th land district which in 1856 was cut into Berrien County.  They were originally members of Union Church which they joined on professions of faith, he being baptized Nov. 12, 1831, and she on Jan 7, 1832.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd were neighbors of Dred Newbern and Jonathan Sirmans. County deed records show that on February 22, 1839, Aden Boyd purchased land from Levi J. Knight, original settler of Ray City, GA . This land was a part of lot 356, 10th district of what was then Lowndes but now Berrien County.

By about 1845, Aden and Nancy’s eldest daughter,  Blansett Boyd, married Henry Tison and settled with her husband on a farm next door to her parents.

The Agricultural Census of 1850 shows Aden Boyd owned 735 acres of land, 40 acres of it improved. The cash value of his farm was $400, and he owned another $50 in farming implements and machinery. His livestock included 3 horses, 20 milch cows, 24 other cattle, and 100 swine. The total value of his live stock was $460 dollars. He had 300 bushels of Indian corn and 40 bushels of oats.  He had 1 bale, 400 lbs, of ginned cotton; 50 bushels of peas and beans; 20 bushels of sweet potatoes, 50 lbs of butter, and $125 dollars’ worth of slaughtered animals.

About 1852, son Aden Boyd, Jr married Maxie Cook, daughter of Elijah Cook.  Aden and Maxie settled on a place next door  to Stephen W. Avera, father of William Greene Avera.

According to Folks Huxford, Aden  and Nancy Boyd had continued as members of  Union Church but in 1854, with their children marrying and settling around them, “a meeting-house was erected on the Boyd lands called Boyd’s Meeting House. Aden Boyd gave land for a church and cemetery, and  a new church called Empire was organized there.  Empire Church is located near Five Mile Creek,  about six miles northeast of Ray City out the Sam I. Watson Highway, on Empire Road.

Mr. and Mrs. Boyd became charter-members of Empire Church by letter of transfer from Union Church dated March 11, 1854.” He and his wife continued as members at Empire for the rest of their lives.

Aden Boyd was one of the early rice growers of Berrien county. The Berrien County agricultural and manufacturing records  for 1860 show he had on hand 80 pounds of rice, along with 50 bushels of corn, 10 bushels of oats and 5 bushels of peas and beans. Aden Boyd died in April 1864, and was  buried in the cemetery at the church he helped to found.  Nancy Sykes Boyd died in April, 1872 and was buried in the cemetery at the church.

aden-boyd-nancy-sykes

Grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA. Image detail courtesy of CT Zeigler http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=37125179

 

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aden-boyd-nancy-sykes-detail

Inscription detail, grave marker of Nancy Sykes and Aden Boyd, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

In 1857,  daughter Lucinda Boyd married William Baldree,  and the couple made their home adjacent to her parents and siblings.  The following year, David Boyd married Anna Ford and they also made their farm near his parents’ home place.

1860-boyd-family1

1860 census pages showing households of Aden Boyd and Nancy Sykes Boyd; Henry Tison and Blansett Boyd Tison; William; William Baldree and Lucinda Boyd Baldree; and David Boyd and Anna Ford Boyd.

Source: https://archive.org/stream/populationschedu111unit#page/n394/mode/1up

In June of 1859, Aden Boyd’s daughter Mary Boyd, married Elbert J. Chapman who was known locally as “Old Yeller” because of his pale complexion.  During the Civil War Old Yeller enlisted with Levi J. Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men, and served in the 29th Georgia Regiment along with William Washington KnightJohn W. Hagan and other men of Berrien County.  But Chapman grew frustrated with relegation to a rear position and  abandoned his unit to seek action with  a westbound cavalry unit.  Although Chapman fought bravely with his new unit, he was eventually shot for his desertion from the 29th Georgia Infantry. Mary Boyd Chapman was later denied a Confederate Widow’s pension.

Sarah Boyd and Eliza Boyd married two brothers, Robert Lewis Taylor and William J. Taylor, respectively. They were brothers of Jemima Taylor, who married William Boyette.

The youngest son, William H. Boyd, married around the end of the Civil War or shortly thereafter.  According to Folks Huxford, he married a Tison woman in Florida.  The 1870 census provides her given name as “Georgia A.”, but no Georgia Tison has been located.  In 1870, William H. Boyd and wife Georgia, along with their sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas H. Boyd, were making their household in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Rays Mill” District of Berrien County, GA.  They were next door to William’s sister Blansett “Blanchy” and her husband, Henry Tison. Also living on the next farm was William’s widowed sister Mary Boyd Chapman, with her 8-year old daughter Mary A C Chapman and an infant daughter, 7-month-old Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry H Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

Pages 91-92 of the 1870 Census of Berrien County, GA showing the adjacent households of Blansett Boyd Tison & Henry Tison; Jasper Tison; William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with sons Henry Harrison Boyd and Thomas Boyd; and Mary Boyd Chapman with daughters Mary A C Chapman and Cressey Chapman.

By 1880 William H. and Georgia Boyd had moved to the 1058 Georgia Militia District in Echols County, GA. They were enumerated there with their son Harrison.  Also in the Boyd household was William’s sister, Mary Chapman, and her daughter Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of  the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman,  and niece Cressey Chapman.

1880 Census, Echols County, GA, enumeration of the household of William H. Boyd & wife Georgia with son Henry Harrison Boyd, sister Mary Boyd Chapman, and niece Cressey Chapman.

https://archive.org/stream/10thcensus0145unit#page/n58/mode/1up

It appears that Georgia Boyd died shortly after 1880 and that William H. Boyd remarried.   William H. Boyd, himself, apparently died before 1900, but his second wife, Penny Boyd, appears in the Valdosta, GA household of his adult son, Harrison Boyd, along with her minor children in the  census of 1900.

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Virgil Griner receives teaching license from W. G. Avera, 1915

James Virgil Griner (1896-1951)

Virgil Griner, circa 1912-1915.  Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Virgil Griner, circa 1912-1915. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

In October, 1915 William Green Avera wrote James Virgil Griner, of Nashville, GA to inform him of his license to teach third grade.  Avera, the Berrien County School Superintendent, lived about 8 miles northeast of Ray City, GA.  The notification was on the official letterhead of the office of the County School Superintendent and listed the members of the school board.

1915 Berrien County Board of Education

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

William Green Avera, Superintendent – pioneer educator of South Georgia taught in Berrien, Lanier, Cook and Lowndes counties;  born August 1, 1855; son of Steven Willis Avera and Martha Elizabeth Akins; largely self-educated; married first Eliza Jane Sirmans, second Margaret McMillan; elected 1907 as Berrien County School Commissioner an re-elected to three subsequent terms; died January 10, 1944; buried Avera Cemetery.

 

 

 

Alexander W. Patterson, Berrien County, GA

Alexander W. Patterson, Berrien County, GA

Alexander W. Patterson, President, Nashville, GA –  born February 22, 1857 in Lowndes County, GA; son of James Duncan Patterson and Elizabeth McCranie; married Ella T. Lindsey February 10, 1884;  teacher; merchant; Berrien County Ordinary, Clerk of the Berrien County Superior Court, chairman of the Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County.

 

 

 

 

Malcolm L. McMillan, Berrien County, GA

Malcolm L. McMillan, Berrien County, GA

Malcolm L. McMillan, Brookfield, GA   – born October 24, 1853, son of Archibald McMillan and Margaret Young; married Narcissa Henderson; planter and merchant; scribe Masonic Lodge No. 47, Tifton, 1904; Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County, 1904; commissioner Berrien County Board of Education, 1901, 1905, 1906, 1915; vice president Farmers Club of Berrien County, 1905; delegate Southern Cotton Growers’ Association convention, 1906; president Berrien County division of the Farmers’ Mutual Fire Insurance Company of Georgia, 1906; board of directors, Merchants’ and Farmers’ Bank of Tifton, GA, 1906; board of directors , National Bank of Tifton, 1907-10; died May 1, 1933; buried Turner Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery 

 

 

 

Sankey Booth, Berrien County, GA

Sankey Booth, Berrien County, GA

Sankey Booth, Adel, GA – born May 5, 1877; son of the Reverend Irwin R. Booth and Margaret Rives Knowles; married Mamie Shaw 18 Nov 1906;  pioneer school teacher and administrator of south Georgia; Berrien County School Board, 1914-15; Atkinson County School Superintendent, 1918-1920; Ray City School superintendent, 1924-25; Principal, Morven School, 1917, 1925-26;  Principal, Cecil School; died October 29, 1965;  buried Adel cemetery, Cook County, GA.

 

William Manning Pafford, Berrien County, GA

William Manning Pafford, Berrien County, GA

William Manning Pafford, Milltown, GA – born December 12, 1869; son of Rowan Pafford and Frances Corbett; married Della Holland on February 08, 1900; merchant; constructed Lee-Banks Hotel, Milltown, GA, 1905; Mayor, Milltown, GA, 1915; Georgia House of Representatives, 1923-24;  Commissioner, Milltown Airline Railway, 1927; died February 8, 1930; buried Lakeland City Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

 

 

 

John Henry Rowan, Berrien County, GA

John Henry Rowan, Berrien County, GA

John Henry Rowan, Nashville, GA     -born May 15, 1862, Coffee County, GA; son of William Berry Rowan and Roseanna Porter; married Phoebe America Knight June 17, 1886;  built Reedy Branch School, Berrien County, GA; Postmaster, Hill, GA; Judge, Berrien County, 1904; Notary Public, 1904-1905; Democratic Executive Committee of Berrien County, 1904; candidate for Berrien County Commissioner, 1910 and 1912; died August 31, 1921, Berrien County, GA; buried Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

1915 letter from Berrien County School Superintendent William Green Avera to James Virgil Griner

1915 letter from Berrien County School Superintendent William Green Avera to James Virgil Griner

 

Nashville, GA   10/12 1915

Mr. J. V. Griner
Nashville, Ga.
Dear Virgil
Please write Mr. J. E. Rowe Alapaha for the New Home School. It is a good school.

You made license – 3d grade General Elementary. Please let me know.

Sincerely,
W. G. Avera

The letter was received by Virgil’s father, Joe H. Griner, who forwarded the information on to Virgil at Tifton, GA.

Envelop of letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, postmarked October 15, 1915, Alapaha, GA

Envelop of letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, postmarked October 15, 1915, Alapaha, GAa

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Letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, dated October 15, 1915

Letter from Joe H. Griner to Virgil Griner, dated October 15, 1915

 

Nashville, Ga
Oct 15th, 1915

Dear Virgil I will sende your letter to you. I got it yesterday. Virgil it isent any use to say any thing about the letter. You can reade it and come on. Virgil you come to Roetown Sunday.  It is there big meeting time out there and I will meet you out there if I can. You come to Allapaha Sunday and go on down to meeting.

Very truly

Joe H. Griner

http://berriencountyga.com/

Joseph Henry Griner, (1856-1934) Berrien County, GA

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In Memory of Joe Donald “Don” Clements

Joe Donald Clements
February 26, 1931 – September 26, 2014

Joe Donald Clements, 1931-2014

Joe Donald Clements, 1931-2014

Mr. Joe Donald (Don) Clements, age 83, of Rome, GA, passed away on September 26, 2014, at his home following an extended illness.

Mr. Clements was born in Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia, on February 26, 1931. He was a son of the late Joseph Samuel Clements and Effie Oquinn , and a grandson of  Levi J. Clements and Elizabeth Roena Patten.  Mr. Clements attended college at North Georgia College where he served in the Corps of Cadets.  He excelled in athletics playing on the varsity baseball team, and was known as the Ray City Flash. Following graduation, he served in the United States Army, leaving the service as a First Lieutenant in 1956.

Mr. Clements was an insurance manager with Crawford & Company for 37 years. After his retirement from Crawford & Company, he worked another 15 years for the Mundy & Gammage Law Firm as a consultant on insurance matters. He was a long time member of the First Baptist Church of Rome and served his church in many capacities. He was a faithful volunteer at the Rome Food Pantry, the William S. Davies Homeless Shelter, and the Community Kitchen.

Survivors include: his wife of more than sixty years, Helen Gudger Clements; three sons, Joe Donald Clements, Jr. (Cecilia) of Springfield, VA; John Terry Clements (Rebecca) of Atlanta, GA; James Frank Clements (Alice) of Rome, GA; and one daughter, Susan Clements Thornhill (Simon) of Santa Cruz, CA. Survivors also include seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service was held on Sunday afternoon September 28, 2014 at 2:00 p. m. in the sanctuary of the First Baptist Church of Rome with Dr. Joel Snider officiating. Visitation immediately followed the service.

Memorial contributions may be made to Action Ministries Rome, 207 East 19th St., Rome, GA 30161, William S. Davies Homeless Shelter, PMB 198, 3 Central Plaza, Rome, GA 30161 or the Community Kitchen, 3 Central Plaza, Suite 384, Rome, GA 30161.”

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Monument to Culpepper Mullis

Culpepper Mullis was a young man of Berrien County before the Civil War.   He was apparently somewhat of a rowdy and prone to riding while intoxicated.

A son of Catherine and Thomas Mullis, he was born about 1834 in North Carolina but came with his parents and siblings to Georgia about 1841.  Shortly thereafter his father died, when Culpepper was about nine years of age. In the census of 1850, Culpepper was enumerated in his  widowed mother’s household, which at that time was  in Lowndes County, GA..  In 1855 his mother married Blank Lee.  Their place was apparently in the neighborhood of Milltown (now Lakeland) in that part of Berrien County which was later cut into Lanier County.   

Old monument to Culpepper Mullis. Tifton Gazette, Dec 7, 1864.

Old monument to Culpepper Mullis. Tifton Gazette, Dec 7, 1864.

Tifton Gazette
Dec 7, 1864.

There is a monument on the side of Mud Creek road, about one mile north of Milltown, which tells the passer-by of a very sad tragedy which occurred there before the war. A young white man, Culpepper Mullis, had been to town where he had imbibed very freely of mean whiskey; he was riding his horse very recklessly, enroute home, when the horse threw him against a pine and broke his neck. The pine tree was cut down leaving a stump about seven or eight feet high, this stump was trimmed to a square and an inscription of the facts engraved thereon. The inscription however, is almost obliterated with age.

A Byrd, a Starling, and an Airship at Carnival Week

1909 carnival at Valdosta, GA

1909 carnival at Valdosta, GA

In early November 1909, people from all around the state began to pile into Valdosta, Georgia.  They came from Naylor, Council, Nashville, Adel, Sparks, Milltown (Lakeland), Hahira, Statenville, Quitman, Cairo, Bainbridge,  Mineola, Tarver, Alexanderville, Howell, Dupont, Broxton, Hawkinsville, Thomasville and Camilla. They came from Atlanta and Macon and Savannah. Up from Florida, they came from Hampton, Lake City, Jasper, Jennings, White Springs, Madison and Jacksonville. They came from Kentucky, New York, and Washington, D.C.

They had come to see the great carnival held in Valdosta November 9th to 13th.  The carnival promised exhibits of trained animals, a dog and pony show, “the Human Butterfly”, free exhibition by “the Clown Elephant” on the streets of Valdosta, an automobile Calliope, and two brass bands.  Most especially, they had come to see the Strobel Airship –  the first flying craft  ever to visit this part of the country – billed as “the greatest attraction ever seen here”. All the railroads offered excursion rates with daily round trips.

From Ray’s Mill, Georgia came B.L. Starling and F. M. Byrd.   The 1910 Census shows Benjamin L. Starling was a farmer renting a farm in the 1157 Georgia Militia District, near the farms of Harmon L. Floyd, Lucius G. Outlaw, and William Outlaw. Frank Byrd was a ‘machinist’ living in the Ray’s Mill District.

Starling and Byrd  arrived on Saturday, November 6, 1909  and, like many of the visitors, stayed at Valdosta’s Florence Hotel.  The hotel was located on South Patterson Street, Valdosta GA just across the street from the railway depot. The location was ideal because the train station was the location where the Strobel Airship would be launched.

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Florence Hotel, Valdosta GA

Florence Hotel, Valdosta GA

The Strobel Airship was an early derigible balloon large enough to take one man aloft, who rode in open rigging below the balloon.  “The envelope of this mechanical marvel is 53 feet long and 14 1-2 feet in diameter. It is made of he finest Japanese silk and is inflated with 8,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas which is the lightest substance known to science.”

Strobel Airship appeared in Valdosta in 1909 (photographed in Michigan)

Strobel Airship appeared in Valdosta in 1909 (photographed in Michigan)

Just one year earlier 25,000 spectators watched a pilot of one of the Strobel Airships plunge 500 feet to his death, after the hydrogen filled aircraft burst into flames during a flight at a county fair in Waterville, Maine.  But after several delays, the crowd in Valdosta witnessed  what was an impressive and successful flight.

Strobel Airship flew in Valdosta, GA in 1909

Strobel Airship flew in Valdosta, GA in 1909

Valdosta Times

Strobel airship made a beautiful Flight To-day

There was more rubber-necking in Valdosta today than all the people in the old town ever did before in all of their lives.  The reason:  The airship went up.      Although the weather four of five hundred feet above the surface of the earth was rather stiff for a successful flight, Prof. Owens sailed over a considerable portion of the town, remaining in the air about fifteen minutes.  The ascension was made at 12:15. Promptly at twelve o’clock the aerial bomb which is exploded just before flights, was set off and fifteen minutes later the ship was in the air  The bomb will notify the people each day when to look for the ship.  When you hear the bomb the flight follows within 15 minutes and the entire town will be circled each day.    The airship is made of a specially wove Japanese silk, covered with eight coats of linseed varnish, four outside and four inside, which renders it perfectly impervious to gas or water,  the dimensions of the vessel are 54 feet long and fifteen feet in diameter. it is inflated with hydrogen gas, the lightest substance known, which is made right on the ground.  It takes about 7,500 cubic feet to inflate the vessel, which has a lifting capacity of 465 pounds.

Before each ascension the airship is balanced perfectly with the aid of sand ballast.  Contrary to the opinion of many people the gas in the envelope of the airship does not lift it up, the bllast being so used as to keep it just barely suspended above the earth. The propellers pull the vessel up or down as the operator wishes.  Of itself the vessel would not rise at all. When everything is ready for an ascension Prof. Owens starts his motor and moves to the rear of the frame work suspended to the ship.  This causes the rear of the ship to move and the propellers then pull the vessel up into the air.  Likewise, when the operator is ready to descend he moves to the front, depressing that end, and the vessel is pulled down by the propellers.

The airship is propelled by a seven-horse power air cooled gasoline engine, and the buzzing of the engine can be heard a considerable distance.

Prof. Owens went up four or five hundred feet this morning, and the graceful vessel presented a pretty picture, as it sailed over the city.  The few doubters were silenced very effectually, and the people witnessed one of the most interesting feats of these modern and strenuous times.

Two flights will be made each day during the balance of the week, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Listen for the bomb, which will tell you when to look for the ship.

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.

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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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