It Happened In Ray City

1958-it-happened-in-georgia1958 

Augustine Collier of Ray City, Ga., saw a six-foot snake crawling across her flowerbed, followed by 24 baby snakes.

Augustine Collier, Ray City, Ga.

Corporal William J. Moore

William J. Moore, born about 1927, was a son of Percy W. Moore and Bessie L. Parker.  He grew up in the community of Lois, near Ray City, GA.

Cpl William Moore, of Ray City, GA

Cpl William Moore, of Ray City, GA

 

Atlanta Constitution
June 29, 1947

Names in the News

Pfc. William J. Moore, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Percy W. Moore, of Ray City, was promoted to the grade of corporal at Hickam Field, Hawaii. A regular Army man, Cpl. Moore is a member of the 1384th Military Police Company, Seventh Air Force.

Rosie Lee Owens

Rosie Lee Owens

While many young women and men of Ray City attended local institutions, Georgia State Womens College or Emory College in Valdosta, or other educational opportunities of the Wiregrass, Doris Mobley and Rosie Lee Owens attended Georgia State College for Women, in Milledgeville, Georgia.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City, GA, entered GSCW in the fall of 1945.

Rosie Lee Owens, 1946 Freshman at Georgia State College for Women

Rosie Lee Owens, 1946 Freshman at Georgia State College for Women

Students in front of the GSWC Administration Building, 1946

Students in front of the GSCW Administration Building, 1946

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Terrell Hall, Georgia State College for Women.  As a freshman, Rosie Lee Owens most likely was a resident of the Terrell Hall dormitory.

Terrell Hall, Georgia State College for Women. As a freshman, Rosie Lee Owens most likely was a resident of the Terrell Hall dormitory.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City. 1947 Georgia State College for Women, Milledgeville Georgia.

Rosie Lee Owens, of Ray City. 1947 Georgia State College for Women, Milledgeville Georgia.

 

The girls in Mansion Annex live next door to a reminder of our heritage from the past.  Mrs. Smith presides over this dormitory and the officers are L. Johns, F. Bradley, and R.L. Owens.

In 1947, Rosie Lee Owens was residing in the Mansion Annex dormitory at Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College),  next door to the former Governor’s Mansion in Milledgeville, GA. Mrs. Smith presided over this dormitory and the officers were L. Johns,  Frances Bradley, and Rosie Lee Owens.

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Edward M. Henderson Mortally Wounded at Brushy Creek

Death came for Edward M. Henderson, Sheriff of Lowndes County, GA  on July 20, 1836, he having been mortally wounded in the Battle of Brushy Creek five days earlier.  In death he joined those killed in action at Brushy Creek –  Pennywell Folsom and Edwin Shanks of Lowndes, and Burton Ferrell of Thomas County. Nine other settlers were wounded in the battle. The names of the Native American dead, “who had been goaded into madness”  are not known.

Captain Levi J. Knight, original settler of the Ray City, GA,  arrived at Brushy Creek with a company of men just after the conclusion of the fighting, having marched across the county from and earlier engagement at  William Parker’s place. Knight and the troops from Brushy Creek were then  engaged in actions along Warrior Creek.

1834 Lowndes County, GA Tax Digest assessment of the property of Edward Marion Henderson.  For his 1,215 acres, Henderson paid $0.78 cents in property taxes.

1834 Lowndes County, GA Tax Digest assessment of the property of Edward Marion Henderson. For his 1,215 acres, Henderson paid $0.78 cents in property taxes.

Edward Marion Henderson, also known as Edwin Henderson, was born in 1810, a son of David A. Henderson. He was born and raised in Liberty County, GA before moving with his parents to Ware County, GA. On July 3, 1829, he was commissioned as Postmaster at Waresboro, Ware County, GA, and served until June 4, 1830. He was Tax Collector of Ware County from 1828 to 1832.

In 1832, he came to settle in Lowndes county, GA on Land Lot # 168, 15th District, in that area which was later cut into Brooks County. He was elected Justice of the Peace for the 659th District of Lowndes, serving from 1833 to 1834. He was elected Sheriff of Lowndes County on April 4, 1834, while Franklinville was still serving as the County Seat. Martin Shaw was his Deputy Sheriff.

According to Lowndes County Tax Digests for 1834, Edward M. Henderson  owned 965 acres on lots 168 and 155 in the 15th District, near the Withlacoochee River, and 250 acres on Lot 150 in the 15th District in Thomas County. In 1835, he retained only the land on Lot 168.

Edward M. Henderson married Martha McMullen in 1835; she was born 1813 in Telfair County, GA, a daughter of James McMullen. Her father was a prominent citizen of Lowndes, and served as a representative in the state legislature.

Child of Edward Marion Henderson and Martha McMullen:

  1. Rebecca Henderson: born 1836, Lowndes County, GA; married Joel M. Morris, April 13, 1854 in Madison County, FL;

When Indian troubles began in 1836 following the uprising at Roanoke, GA, Edward M. Henderson served with the Lowndes County militia. He was mortally wounded in the Battle of Brushy Creek and died a few days later on July 20, 1836, leaving behind his young wife and infant daughter. The site of his grave is not known.

† † †

The estate of Edward M. Henderson was administered by his brother, Samuel T. Henderson, and his home place on Lot 168, 15th District was sold at auction in December 1838.  His widow, Martha McMullen Henderson, with baby Rebecca Henderson returned to her father’s home.  She never re-married.  When Rebecca married Joel M. Morris in 1854, Martha moved into her son-in-law’s household in Jefferson County, FL.

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Jimmy Grissett, Mailman

James Arthur Grissett (1900-1983)

James Grissett, Sr. was a mail carrier serving the Ray City area, and for some time he served as a U.S. Postmaster. He was a landmark of the postal service in Ray City, his career spanning more than 40 years.

Jimmy Grissett, of Ray City, GA, delivering mail,  June 1970.  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Jimmy Grissett, of Ray City, GA, delivering mail, June 1970. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

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Patterson Hotel Built by Lon Fender in 1912

The Patterson Hotel, built by Lon Fender, opened for business on July 15, 1912 in Valdosta, GA.  Lon Fender was involved in some biggest business deals in Wiregrass Georgia and in the history of Ray City, GA.  He owned farmland near here in the 1920s and a  turpentine still at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.

The Patterson Hotel, Valdosta, GA was built in 1912 by Lon Fender and Eugenia Devine.  At the time it was the most luxurious hotel in south Georgia.

The Patterson Hotel, Valdosta, GA was built in 1912 by Lon Fender and Eugenia Devine. At the time it was the most luxurious hotel in south Georgia.

The Patterson Hotel located at the corner of Patterson and Savannah Avenues was built on the site of another hotel, the Florence Hotel. It was torn down to make way for a parking lot.

The Patterson Hotel located at the corner of Patterson and Savannah Avenues was built on the site of another hotel, the Florence Hotel. It was torn down to make way for a parking lot.

 

William Lon Fender, photographed circa 1924, lived near Ray City, Berrien County, GA where he was engaged in the naval stores industry.

William Lon Fender, photographed circa 1924, lived near Ray City, Berrien County, GA where he was engaged in the naval stores industry.

William Alonzo “Lon” Fender was a son of William Alfred Fender (1836-1920) and Susannah Allen (1841-1920).  His father was a Civil War  veteran and a farmer of the Naylor district, Lowndes County, GA, later moving to Ray City, GA. His wife, Texas Irene Hagan, was a daughter of Civil War veteran John W. Hagan and Mary Smith.

The Fenders had a knack for the hotel business. Lon Fender’s cousin, William Seaboarn Fender,  was an investor in the Valdosta Hotel Company. His brother, Wilson W. Fender, operated the Fender Hotel at Ray City.

In 1911, Lon Fender partnered with Eugenia Prescott Devine (1850-1927), widow of William H. Devine (1849-1887) to build a modern brick hotel in Valdosta, GA. The Patterson Hotel Company was incorporated in 1912, with a capital stock of $25,000.

This building, the Patterson Hotel, replaced the old Florence Hotel, where Ray City residents Benjamin L. Starling and , stayed during the 1909 Carnival Week and the flight of the Strobel Air Ship.

 

 

In 1911, The Valdosta Times reported that Lon Fender would build the Hotel Patterson.

In 1911, The Valdosta Times reported that Lon Fender would build the Hotel Patterson.

 

Valdosta Times
May 6, 1911

New Hotel Is Now Assured

Work of Tearing Down the Old Florence will Begin as Soon as Possible.

(From Tuesday’s Daily)

       Within the next few days the old Florence hotel will be torn down to make room for a magnificent new hotel which is to go up in its place.
        If you want to buy the Florence almost at your own price, provided you will agree to move it off the ground which it now occupied without any delay. Work on the new hotel cannot commence until the old building is removed and it is decided to begin the work on the new one right away.
        Mr. W. L. Fender this morning closed a trade with Mrs. Devine by which he comes into possession of the ground now occupied by the Florence Hotel, extending eighty feet on Patterson street and two hundred and eleven feet on Savannah avenue.  Mr. Fender is to be leading spirit in building the new hotel, but it is understood Mrs. Devine will be interested in the new building.
        Mr. Curran Ellis, the well known architect, has already prepared the plans for the new hotel and he was in the city this morning and submitted them to Mr. Fender and Mrs. Devine.
       The new hotel will be five stories and will be one of the handsomest structures of its size in the state.
       It will have between ninety and one hundred rooms and every room will have hot and cold water and most of the rooms will have baths attached. The building will have a handsome passenger elevator running from the lobby to the top floor.
        The hotel will have handsome columns extending out over the Patterson street sidewalk with a main entrance on Patterson street but with another entrance on Savannah avenue. There will be a store room on the corner of Patterson street and Savannah avenue to be occupied by a drug store while there will be another store room on the west side of the building to be occupied as an up-to-date cafe. Between these two store rooms will be a colonnade leading to the office and lobby. The kitchen will be on the southwest corner of the building and the dining room will be on the west side as the present one in the Florence hotel.
        The maid p—- —- be on the second floor and on the east side, leading to a large veranda overlooking Patterson street. The building is to be equipped in the very best of styles and it is to be a credit to a town of twenty-five thousand people.  Mr. Fender and Mrs. Devine have already had flattering offers from well known hotel men for a lease of the building.
       Mr. Ellis, the architect is expected to have the working plans completed within a day or two and it is understood that the contract for the work will be let just as soon as possible. Prominent contractors were here this morning figuring on the new building.
       The completion of this new hotel will be the biggest work done in Valdosta during the present year. It will transform the appearance of the city and will give passengers on all of the roads a good view of the imposing structure.

 

Atlanta Constitution, May 12, 1912

Atlanta Constitution, May 12, 1912

 

Atlanta Constitution
May 12, 1912

Little Items of Georgia Cities
Valdosta Hotels.

Valdosta, Ga., May 5. -(Special.) – William Foor, proprietor of the Aragon hotel at Jacksonville, Fla., yesterday closed a ten-year lease for the handsome new hotel built by W.L. Fender and Mrs. Devine in this city. The terms of the lease have not been made public, but a very satisfactory price was received by the owners. The new hotel will open about the 20th of June.The building will be ready for the furnishings within the next few weeks.There are few hansomer hotels in this part of the state than the new structure. The owners of the Valdes hotel have announced their intention to enlarge and refurnish the hotel as soon as the lease of Mr. Ferrell, the present manager, expires in September. The proposed improvements will make the Valdes probably the most handsome hotel in southern Georgia, and will place Valdosta in the front rank in hotel accommodations.

 

Atlanta Constitution, July 12, 1912. The Hotel Patterson prepared for a grand opening on July 15, 1912.

Atlanta Constitution, July 12, 1912. The Hotel Patterson prepared for a grand opening on July 15, 1912.

Atlanta Constitution
 July 12, 1912

Little Items of Georgia Cities
Hotel Patterson to Open.

Valdosta, Ga. Valdosta’s new hotel, the Hotel Patterson, will be thrown open to the public on the 15th instant. The furnishings which are of the best class, are being installed rapidly and the finishing touches to the building are being pushed. Manager William Foor of Jacksonville, who has leased the property for a number of years, will devote much of his personal time to the hotel and is determined to have it open by the 15th of the month, even if some minor details are not completely finished by then. The house is one of the neatest and most comfortably appointed hotels in the state. It’s kitchen and dining room equipment is of the most modern character and so far as quality goes is not excelled. The building is of pressed brick, four stories with basement, but the owners propose to add two more stories during the latter part of the year or early next spring. Mr. Foor has already signed a contract for the lease of the additional floors. 

 

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Leland Etheldred Langford Died in Plane Crash

langford

Leland E. Langford grew up in Ray City, GA before joining the Army.

Leland E. Langford grew up in Ray City, GA before joining the Army.

 

Leland Etheldred Langford (1919-1949)

Leland E. Landford was born July 10, 1919 at Ray City, GA,  a son of  Luther and Amanda Langford.  The Langford family farm place was on Rt 2, Ray City, Ga, about 1 mile east of town on the old Milltown (now Lakeland) – Ray City Road.

Leland attended the Ray City school  where he was a member of 4-H.  He graduated with the Ray City High School class of 1939.

After graduation, Leland had difficulty finding employment.  The Census of 1940 shows he continued to reside in his parents household and that he was doing government work as a carpenter on a school Works Program.  For this work he received $8 dollars per week.

On June 12, 1941 Leland Langford enlisted as a private in the Army at Fort McPherson, Atlanta, Georgia. Enlistment records show  he was 5’11” and 124 pounds.  Leland was trained as a pilot and commissioned as a Lieutenant.  Some time after he enlisted, Leland met and married a nurse.

Lt. Langford continued to serve  with the Army after WWII.  In 1949, he was working for the Army as a liaison pilot to the Air Force.

Atlanta Constitution
June 2, 1949

CAA Probes Union City Death Crash

Army officials and investigators of the Civil Aeronautics Administration yesterday launched a probe of the plane crash which Tuesday night killed two Army liaison pilots and injured an Air force officer near Union City.
Killed in the crash were Lt. Leland E. Langford, of Ray City, Ga., and Lt. Warren J. Ludwig, of New York City. Lt. Ludwig died en route to Grady Hospital.
Lt. Henry Matney, of Germantown, Md., flying with the two liaison pilots, parachuted to safety. He was treated at Fort McPherson Hospital for bruises.

Leland E. Langford killed in plane crash,  May 31, 1949.

Leland E. Langford killed in plane crash, May 31, 1949.

Leland’s body was returned to Ray City, GA.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery.

Leland Etheldred Langford

Leland Etheldred Langford

The Demon Rears its Head in Ray City

Demon Alcohol

Georgia passed Prohibition in 1907 and did not repeal it until 1935.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia,

“An 1885 statute granted voters the right to impose prohibition in the county where they lived. By 1907 most counties had voted themselves dry. That same year the state legislature enacted mandatory statewide prohibition, one of the moral reforms demanded by Progressives throughout the South. The Atlanta race riot of 1906 probably encouraged the enactment of prohibition;”

[Racist newspapers controlled by Georgia’s leading politicians incited white mob violence  against Atlanta’s African American residents with lurid and unsubstantiated allegations of assaults by black men on white women – assaults which were blamed on black saloon goers.]

 “whites feared the consequences of African Americans’ drinking, and furthermore, white mobs originated in bars and saloons.”

The new law went into effect in 1908. For a time the legislature offered the “wets” some loopholes—near-beer saloons serving low-alcohol drinks were permitted, as were alcoholic beverages in locker-clubs—but these were closed in 1915. Georgia ratified the Eighteenth Amendment for national prohibition three years later. It did not vote for repeal of national prohibition, but after that occurred, Georgia repealed its own statewide prohibition in 1935.”

Prohibition didn’t stop drinking in Ray City. There were plenty of “blind tigers” running stills and selling liquor in Berrien County, despite the efforts of lawmen like Jim Griner, Bruner Shaw and Cauley Shaw.   In 1919,  reports of drunkenness and lawlessness in Ray City were making newspapers throughout the section.

Bootleg alcohol in Berrien County, 1919.

Bootleg alcohol in Berrien County, 1919.

Tifton Gazette
March 14, 1919, Page 2

The Demon Rears Its Head.

        This from the Valdosta Times: “People who came in from Ray City the past day or two said that some of the carousing element in that locality have been having some lively times during the past few days. They had gotten hold of a lot of moonshine liquor, the kind that simple makes a man forget himself and everything else. There were several free fights and a good deal of threatening and a considerable amount of gun play. The lifely times reached their climax about last Thursday night. Things have been getting quieter since then.”
        Perhaps for many communities throughout South Georgia this would be an apt description of affairs. Certainly the illicit manufacture of whiskey has brought about a situation worse than existed while whiskey was legally sold in the state.
        The stuff made in practically every community and sold at such prices that the traffic yields immense profits is said to be of such character that it not only robs men of reason but robs them of health as well containing so much potash as to be little short of poison. Perhaps present conditions are only transitory, but certainly they are bad. They may readjust themselves after awhile, but prompt and vigorous measures will do much toward bringing this readjustment about.

4th of July, 1914 a Big Day at Milltown

Independence Day at Milltown, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

Tifton Gazette
July 3, 1914

Big Day at Milltown

       Milltown, Ga., June 23. – The business men of Milltown and the people generally throughout this section have come together and will, on the Fourth day of July celebrate Independence Day with a mammoth fish fry, free to everybody, who spends that day with us. It is the intention to have something like 2,000 pounds of fried fresh water fish here that day, besides other eatables.
      The present prospect is that there will be at least 5,000 here on that occasion. In addition to the free fish fry, there will be a ball game between Milltown and Homerville, boat races, foot races, and other interesting sports. The boat races will take place on Lake Irma, an artificial body of water right in the center of town, covering about 12 acres. On the bank of this beautiful lake is a skating rink, where a contest in fancy skating will occur.
      The Waycross and Western railroad will run an excursion from Waycross and the Milltown Air Line one from Naylor, where it connects with the Atlantic Coast Line. Word comes that every available automobile in Valdosta, Hahira, Nashville, Adel, Sparks, Rays Mill and other nearby towns have been engaged to bring the crowds to Milltown on the glorious Fourth. This is claimed to be the greatest fish fry in the history of all time, except one.
      Milltown is in the very heart of the finest fishing territory in the whole south. Only one mile away is the famous Bank’s Pond, covering 11,000 acres of land and abounding in the choicest and gamest of fish.

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Ray City Girls Form Athletic Club, 1947

Ray City, Ga in the 1940s took particular pride in the girls athletic teams of the Ray City School.  The local newspapers were full of stories about the girls basketball team challenging the neighboring communities or competing in tournament play. After the construction of the gym at the Ray City School hometown pride swelled even further.  The gym, which could seat 1,100 spectators, was dedicated in 1947. That year the Ray City girls organized their own Athletic Club.

1947-Ray-City-Girls-Athletic-Club

The Nashville Herald
September 18, 1947

Ray City Girls Form Athletic Club and Name New Officers

RAY CITY – The Ray City High School girls met September 9 in order to form an Athletic club and elect officers.
They are: Louise Williams, president, Virginia Dampier, vice president, Carolyn Scarborough, secretary and treasurer, Jean Studstill reporter.
Other members of the club are Farlene Wilson, Judith Moore, Dianne Miley, Helen Wood, Winona Williams, Ruth Webb, Betty Jean Huff, Marlene Knight, Jeanette Fender, Hilda Faye Register, Peggy Johnson, Lullene Rouse, Jeraldine Sirmans, Edith Monk, Betty Rose Purvis, Carolyn McLendon, Betty Jo Cook, Hazel Gray, Mary Register, Carolyn Register.

Winona Williams, 1948, Ray City High School

Winona Williams, 1948, Ray City High School

Helen Wood, 1948, Ray City High School

Helen Wood, 1948, Ray City High School

Jean Studstill, 1948, Ray City High School

Jean Studstill, 1948, Ray City High School

Judy Moore, of Ray City, GA, 1950 freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

Judy Moore, of Ray City, GA, 1950 freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

Diane Miley, 1948-1949 school photo.

Diane Miley, 1948-1949 school photo.

Peggy Johnson, 1949, Ray City High School

Peggy Johnson, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jean Huff, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jean Huff, 1949, Ray City High School

Lullene Rouse, 1950, Ray City School

Lullene Rouse, 1950, Ray City School

Betty Jo Cook, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jo Cook, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Purvis, 1950, Ray City High School

Betty Purvis, 1950, Ray City High School

Hazel Croy, 1950, Ray City High School

Hazel Croy, 1950, Ray City High School

Geraldine Sirmans, 1948, Ray City High School

Geraldine Sirmans, 1948, Ray City High School

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