Etheldred Dryden Newbern: War of 1812

SERVICE IN THE WAR OF 1812
When the War of 1812 came to Georgia, Etheldred “Dred” Newbern (1794-1874) was living with his father and step-mother in Bulloch County, GA, in the watershed of the Ogeechee River west of Savannah. As a teenager, Dred was “about 5 feet 3 or four inches, Black hair & Eyes,” according to his future wife. The young man followed the military legacy of his father and grandfather, who had fought the British in the American Revolution. Dred Newbern was enlisted in the Bulloch County Militia Company in Captain Peter Cone’s district. Samuel Register, another Bulloch County pioneer, also joined the Georgia Militia. Both men would later relocate to the area of present-day Ray City, GA.

The Declaration of War against Great Britain was signed by President James Madison on June 18, 1812. The President’s address to congress listed three grievances: British impressment of American citizens, blockade of maritime commerce, and the British agitation of Native American hostilities on the southern frontier of the United States.

Georgians learned of the state of war eleven days after President Madison’s declaration, when the news appeared in the Georgia press under a modest column heading next to an advertisement for shoes:

Declaration of War announced in the Savannah Republican, June 29, 1812.

The major events of the War of 1812 would occur in theaters far from Georgia, from the U.S. invasion of Canada, to the British burning of the Capitol and White House, to the Battle of New Orleans. Georgians were most concerned about the disruption of Georgia’s maritime trade and the threat of invasion at Georgia’s ports.

Some of these concerns were expressed in the American pro-war slogan, “Free trade and Sailors’ Rights,” protesting the strict naval blockade the British had imposed since 1806 on any trade with France or French allies.  British ships stationed off the American coast were intercepting American ships and seizing any cargoes destined for France. Furthermore, under the doctrine of the “English Right to Search,” British warships routinely stopped and boarded American vessels to inspect the crew, and seize, or “impress” sailors for alleged desertion from the Royal Navy.

British officer looking over a group of American seamen on deck of ship. ca. 1810. Library of Congress.

England was desperate for men to fill the great shortage of sailors needed for the war against Napoleon, and there were certainly British deserters serving on American ships. The British warships were notorious for their horrendous treatment of seamen. While the Royal Navy claimed the right to recover these deserters, impressment frequently scooped up American sailors as well. By 1811, the American newspapers considered the British actions little more than piracy, asking “What ought the feelings of the American government to be when they have certain knowledge that more than 8000 native citizens of these United States have been impressed, and are now suffering in the ‘Floating Hells of Old England?” (Savannah Republican, Feb 11, 1811). In reprisal for British seizures of American ships and cargoes, the U.S. Congress had passed its own Nonintercourse Acts, making it illegal to import British goods into the United States. The U.S. began seizing British cargoes and the ships found carrying them, even when they came into the country by way of some third neutral port.

Savannah Artillery company called to muster in on July 4, 1812 “to celebrate the Birth Day of the only free Government on earth.” In preparation for war, the Savannah City Council moved to conscript every ounce of gun powder jn the city.” -Savannah Republican, June 27, 1812.

Certainly the British blockades and impressment were disruptive to maritime trade from Georgia’s ports. Anxiety ran high. A royal navy proclamation of the blockade of American ports specifically called out the Georgia ports at Darien, Sunbury and Savannah, along with the ports of New York, Norfolk, Charleston, Port Royal, and New Orleans.

According to New Georgia Encyclopedia,

Georgia, with its long coastline and prosperous coastal cities, once again was on the front line. Georgia had been subdued, for the most part, by the British in the American Revolution. Its coastal cities had been occupied, and in 1812 it seemed possible that a powerful British force could do so again. Little protection was forthcoming from the federal government because of its serious deficiency in ships and sailors. British warships hovered off Georgia’s coast, snapping up coastal trading craft and disrupting the livelihood of Georgians. Georgia’s citizens and leaders clamored for help.” 

New Georgia Encyclopedia

The HMS Lacedemonian, a Leda-class British warship, was stationed off Cumberland Island.

A Leda-class British warship. The HMS Lacedemonian, a ship of this type, was stationed off Cumberland Island, GA in 1812. Image: Public Domain

The HMS Lacedaemonian was built at the Royal Dockyard, Portsmouth and launched in 1812. Measuring 150 feet along the lower deck and 40 feet in the beam, it had a tonnage of 1073 in builder’s old measurement. The upper deck was armed with twenty-eight 18-pounder guns, six 9-pounders on the quarterdeck and two 12-pounders on the forecastle. The ‘Lacedaemonian’ was a large frigate carrying up to 46 guns but only rated at 38 guns.

British gunboats off the Georgia coast threatened the considerable trade that was carried on between Savannah and the Spanish port of St. Augustine. The American traders were small vessels that traveled the intercoastal waterways of the Georgia sea islands, carrying cotton and rice to St. Augustine and returning with dry goods and groceries.

Armed launches from the HMS Lacedaemonian prowled Georgia’s intercoastal waterways attacking the American merchant ships. These small British gunboats carried a carronade mounted in the bow, and captained by a lieutenant with a crew of 12 seamen and marines. Larger vessels battled on the open sea within hearing distance of the Georgia Coast. Sunbury residents recalled listening for hours to the roar of cannons.

Soon Dred Newbern and men all over Georgia would be called out for militia duty for the defense of the nation.

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Vida Mae Coleburn

Vida Mae Coleburn (1915-1998)

Vida Mae Coleburn came with their parents and siblings to Lois, GA near Ray City sometime in the 1920s.

Vida Mae Coleburn at Berry College, 1938

Vida Mae Coleburn was born May 12, 1915, at Morehead, NC. Her parents were William BJ Colburn and Mamie Parks Colburn. In 1936 she entered Berry College near Rome, GA. There she participated in the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Syrreb Literary Society, and the Business Woman’s Association. She graduated in 1940 with a bachelors degree in Education.

Vida Mae Coleburn at Berry College, 1940
Vida Mae Coleburn was a member of the Young Women’s Christian Association at Berry College, 1936-1940. Photo of the YWCA members in their college uniforms, 1938.

The Business Woman’s Association endeavors to stimulate interest in the Commercial Department and to bring members in closer contact with outside business activities. Membership is open to those women who are majoring or minoring in commerce and maintaining a scholastic average of “B” or above. The bi-monthly meetings feature student programs and speeches by guest business and professional leaders. A program sponsored jointly with the Commercial Club featured two short business plays, “Of All Things” and “The Potter Pancake Company.” A joint meeting, two parties and picnics were other outstanding events of the year.

The year 1939-40 found the Syrreb Literary Society winding its way around the ninth curve in our road to flaming success in literature, dramatics, music, and other expressions of art. The peak of success for the year was the play, “One Mad Night,” presented under the direction of Judith Joyner and Fred Johnson. Featured activities of the spring semester were the annual banquet which was held in the Ford Refectory on March 7, and the Syrreb joint program sponsored by both divisions of the society.

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A Cannon for Ray City

Congressional Record, House of Representatives, May 23, 1919

In 1919, U.S. Representative from Georgia William C. Lankford introduced a bill authorizing the Secretary of War to donate a captured German cannon to the city of Ray City, GA. To be fair, by the end of World War I, the German Artillery had 11,000 field guns and American legislators like Representative Lankford thought every town in their district deserved a captured field piece as a monument to the war effort. Berrien county paid a terrible toll in the loss of her young men when the ill-fated Otranto troopship went down off the coast of Scotland on October 6, 1918.

William Chester Lankford, represented the citizens of Ray City, GA as Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Georgia’s 11th congressional district March 4, 1919 – March 3, 1933

William Chester Lankford (December 7, 1877 – December 10, 1964) was an American politician, judge and lawyer. Lankford was born in the Camp Creek Community of Clinch County, Georgia on December 7, 1877. He attended the public schools in Clinch County and later taught school there. He graduated from the Jasper Normal Institute in Jasper, Florida, in 1897 and the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute in Abbeville, Georgia, in 1900. He then studied law at the University of Georgia School of Law and graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) degree in 1901. After moving to Douglas, Georgia, in 1901, Lankford began the practice of law. He went into partnership with Marcus David Dickerson to form the law firm of Lankford & Dickerson. Lankford and Dickerson had been friends since childhood and over the next decade they “built up a magnificent practice.”

Lankford became a prominent citizen of Coffee County. In 1902 W.C. Lankford was elected Secretary of the Democratic Party of Coffee County. That summer he gave the welcome address at the Teachers Institute workshop in Douglas. He was a Mason and was elected Senior Warden of the Douglas Lodge No. 386 on December 19, 1902, and soon elevated to Worshipful Master. The following year he was a founding officer in the organization of the Douglas chapter of the Royal Arch Masons.  Later he also joined the Douglas lodge of the Odd Fellows and the Alee Temple Shriners.

He was active in opposition to the Sweat Dispensary Act proposed by Frank L. Sweat and passed by the Georgia Legislature authorizing the establishment of liquor dispensaries in Coffee County, GA.

In 1906, W. C. Lankford was elected Mayor of Douglas and gave an address at the Coffee County Sunday School Convention. As mayor, his speeches were characteristically “full of enthusiasm and warm congratulations.”  He became a member of the city Board of Education the following year; He remained on the Board of Education until 1918.

On October 17, 1906 William Chester Lankford married Mattie Lott in Coffee County, GA.

He was a founding member of the Progressive Union of Douglas, which sought to form a library for the city and generally build up the section. He was a member of the Literary Union and on June 1, 1907 he delivered the literary address at the Broxton Institute. That year he made a significant investment in city lots in the Purse subdivision of Douglas. He served on the Board of Directors of the Douglas Board of Trade.  The Lankford family made a three-week excursion to the 1907 Jamestown Exposition at Norfolk, VA.

W. C. Lankford was a Methodist and a member of the Epworth League. He was active in the Methodist Camp Meetings at Douglas, which were held at the campground near Gaskins Spring.

On January 1, 1908, Lankford became a judge of the city court. The judge and Mrs. Lankford had a home on Ward Street.  They owned a restaurant in Douglas called the Royal Cafe. In the state elections of 1908 he was a supporter of Hoke Smith. In the presidential election he supported William Jennings Bryan. That year, Lankford and the other members of the Board of Education of the City of Douglas petitioned for a charter to form the Georgia Normal College and Business Institute at Douglas. Originally established at nearby Abbeville, GA in 1897, The Georgia Normal College and Business Institute was Judge Lankford’s alma mater. In 1908 it was moved to Douglas, Ga.  Lankford served on the Board of Trustees of the Institute.

In 1909 he was one of the investors in the Douglas Chatauqua.

The Lankfords took the month of July 1909 for an excursion by train to Seattle, WA for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition.

1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition
1909 Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition
W.C. Lankford speaks on his 1909 trip to visit the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone Park.
W.C. Lankford speaks on his 1909 trip to visit the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Salt Lake City, and Yellowstone Park.

In 1910, Mrs. Lankford was injured in trainwreck on the Georgia & Florida Railroad, at Bemiss, GA ten miles south of the G & F depot at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA. Mrs. Lankford, wife of Judge Lankford, of the county court of Douglas, was slightly bruised and Mr. C. A. Taylor, of Rays Mill, had his lip cut.  In October, 1910 the Judge gave the address at the Broxton gathering of the United Confederate Veterans, Camp Spivey No. 1539.

In Judge Lankford’s 1910 term on the bench of the City Court of Douglas, GA he took a tough stance on “blind tigers” producing moonshine whiskey in Coffee County. “He announced to the public that so long as he was judge of the city court, all violators of the prohibition law convicted in his court, would receive the same punishment, whether white or black, rich or poor, old or young, friend or foe, he would sentence each to a term of twelve months on the chain-gang without the privilege of paying a fine.”  On occasion, Judge Lankford would preside at the city court of Nashville, GA in cases where Judge William Douglas Buie, of Nashville, was disqualified; Judge Buie reciprocated, presiding in Douglas when necessary.

The judge owned one of the early automobiles of Coffee County.

In January 1911 Judge W. C. Lankford bought the old Rudolph homestead on the corner of Ward and Pearl Street in Douglas for $5,500. The judge acquired several other properties in that area, assembling some of the most valuable business property in the city.

The year 1913 saw the creation of the Federal Reserve and the creation of the income tax, but it was also wracked by a recession that caused a significant decline in real incomes. The Recession of 1913-1914 lasted until the outbreak of World War I. Incidentally, the Federal Reserve Act was signed during this recession, creating the Federal Reserve System. Like other South Georgia families, the Lankfords were hit hard by the recession. Their home, restaurant and other real estate in Douglas were seized in 1915 sold at auction to pay back taxes.

W.C. Lankford resigned his post as judge of the Douglas City Court on May 1, 1916, to run an unsuccessful campaign that year for the United States House of Representatives.

1916 political advertisement for William Chester Lankford.

Lankford ran again for the 66th United States Congress in 1918 and was elected as a Democrat to represent Georgia’s 11th congressional district. He won reelection to that seat six additional terms before losing in 1932.

Following his congressional service, Lankford returned to practicing law. He worked in the General Accounting Office in Washington, D.C. from January 1935 through October 1942. He died on December 10, 1964, and was buried in Douglas Cemetery in the city of Douglas, GA.

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Louisa Bird Peurifoy: Minister’s Wife

Louisa Bird Peurifoy (1816-1878) was the wife of Reverend Tillman Dixon Peurifoy (1809-1872), a circuit-riding Methodist preacher who served on the Troupville Circuit in Lowndes County, GA in 1840. Old Lowndes County then also encompassed much of present day Berrien, Cook, Tift, Lanier and Echols counties and Troupville was the county seat for the pioneer settlers of Ray City, GA. In 1838, the Peurifoys lived in the Florida Territory, about 20 miles from Tallahassee. On the night of Saturday, March 31, 1838, while Reverend Peurifoy was away at a Methodist conference meeting, his family and African Americans he enslaved were massacred by Indians. The two Peurifoy children and three enslaved people were killed in the attack. Mrs. Peurifoy was horribly wounded.

Louisa Bird Peurifoy, wife of Reverend Tilman Dixon Peurifoy, survived an Indian attack in Jefferson County, Florida Territory on April 1, 1838.
Digital likeness of Louisa Bird Peurifoy reconstructed using AI technology.

Louisa Ann Bird Peurifoy was born September 10, 1816 in Edgefield County, SC. She was a daughter of Lucinda Brooks and Captain Daniel Bird. Her father, a native of Virginia, was a wealthy cotton planter and breeder of fine race horses. He owned hundreds of acres of land and twenty enslaved people. “In 1817 he was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives where he served in the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth General Assemblies (1818-1822). In 1822 he was elected Clerk of Court for the Edgefield District in which office he served from 1822 until 1830.

It appears in Louisa’s early childhood the family lived on one of her father’s plantations. When she was about nine, her father moved the family into Halcyon Grove, a magnificent mansion he had built near the Edgefield court house.

Halcyon Grove, Edgefield, SC. The mansion, built by Captain Daniel Bird, still serves as a residence today.

“The house was three stories, including the full attic. Two huge chimneys were at each end, providing fire places for the front rooms on the first and second floors. Two smaller chimneys were behind for the back rooms. The front porch was a narrow, two-story portico which was common in the early antebellum period. (This would later be changed to the porch we see today which extends across the entire front of the house.) Other architectural features included elaborately-carved mantelpieces, wainscoting, and an arch dividing the downstairs hallway. Additionally there were fanlights over the main hall doors upstairs and down, and a partially hidden staircase at the back hall leading to the second floor. The hardware for all of the doors was brass and of the best quality, for the hinges and locks have lasted for nearly two centuries. By any standards, this was, as a later commentator described it, ‘a handsome establishment, and a large and comfortable one.’”

The Story of Halcyon Grove

Louisa’s mother, Lucinda Brooks, died in 1826, and her father subsequently married Mrs. Behethland Brooks Simkins, sister of his deceased wife. The step-mother, Mrs. Simkins, was the widow of Jesse Simkins who had left her possessed of lands, money and enslaved people. Mrs. Simkins had four children of her own; Elizabeth Simkins, Emmala Simkins, Smith Simkins and Lawrence Simkins who became Louisa’s step-siblings. 

In 1830, Captain Bird’s household was enumerated in Edgefield County, SC with his wife and their nine children, and 14 enslaved people. Around that time, Captain Bird purchased a tract of land in Jefferson County in the Florida Territory, just south of the line of Lowndes County, GA. In 1832, Captain Bird moved his family, enslaved people and household goods from South Carolina to settle in Jefferson County, Florida Territory. The Bird’s most likely route through Wiregrass Georgia would have been via the Coffee Road which was opened up in 1827, the same year Jefferson County was created, and which ran from Jacksonville, GA to Tallahassee, FL. Arriving in Florida, the Birds first alighted at Waukeenah, about 11 miles south of Monticello, FL. Waukeenah was a resting point for travelers on the Old St. Augustine road (also known as the Bellamy Road), which ran from St. Augustine to Tallahassee to Pensacola, Florida.

Section of the Old St. Augustine Road near Tallahassee, FL. Image source: Public Domain.
Section of the Old St. Augustine Road near Tallahassee, FL. Image source: Public Domain.

Within a very short while, Captain Bird relocated to “Bunker Hill”, about 10 miles northwest of Monticello, FL where he established a large plantation. Bunker Hill was a rise on the mail route from Thomasville, GA to Monticello, FL; A post office with mail delivery every two weeks had been established there in 1829. Later Captain Bird bought a second plantation named “Nacoosa” south of Monticello,  which had been the home of Abram Bellamy (Jefferson County Library Digital History Project). By 1860, Bunker Hill Plantation and Nacoosa Plantation together comprised 1600 acres, where Bird worked 44 enslaved people.

Detail of A.J. Johnson's 1863 map of Florida with locations of Waukeena, Monticello, Bunker Hill and Tallahassee, and in Georgia the locations of Grooverville, Thomasville, and Troupville.
Detail of A.J. Johnson’s 1863 map of Florida with locations of Waukeena, Monticello, Bunker Hill and Tallahassee, and in Georgia the locations of Grooverville, Thomasville, and Troupville.

On June 13, 1833, Louisa Ann Bird married Tillman Dixon Peurifoy in Jefferson County, FL. The bride was 17 years old, the groom 25. Purifoy was a circuit riding Methodist minister who had been sent to Jefferson County to support the Methodist Episcopal Church’s mission in the Florida Territory, and a contemporary of Wiregrass circuit riders George W. Davis, Robert H. Howren, George Bishop, Capel Raiford, Robert Stripling, and John Slade. T.D. Peurifoy was a son of William Peurifoy born January 21, 1809 in Putnam County, GA. He had been baptized into the Methodist faith at the age of 15.  The Southern Christian Advocate said, “He commenced in the old Methodist way, leading the class, holding prayer-meetings in the neighbor hood, etc., and soon became very popular among the people, and useful in the church.” At 19 he was admitted as a minister in the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. His father died the following year, and by age 21, he was appointed by the Georgia Conference to a station at Waynesboro, GA, riding on horseback to preach in communities in the area.

Announcement of Methodists Camp Meetings in the Milledgeville District, published July 1, 1833
Announcement of Methodists Camp Meetings in the Milledgeville District, published July 1, 1833

After marriage, Louisa and Tillman D. Peurifoy did not immediately settle in the Florida Territory. In October, 1833, Reverend Peurifoy was in Sparta, GA. Great camp meetings attended by thousands of Methodists were held at Shoulderbone Creek near Sparta. In those days, Methodists held camp meetings all over Georgia. In Lowndes County an annual Methodist revival was held at the old Lowndes Camp Ground, later called the Mount Zion Camp Ground.

In Putnam County, the Methodist gathered at the Rock Spring Camp Meeting. On October 4, 1833, while attending the camp meeting at Rock Spring, Reverend Peurifoy’s brother was robbed of a fine pocket watch, of the lever type; The lever escarpment mechanism, popularized in the 1820s, made a significant advancement in the accuracy of pocket watches.

October 16, 1833, Milledgeville Southern Recorder.

For the year 1834 the church assigned Reverend Peurifoy to the Cedar Creek station near Milledgeville, Baldwin County, GA.

It is located in perhaps the most beautiful valley in Georgia. Cedar Creek, a considerable stream, clear as
crystal, meanders through the valley, and along its banks are lands unsurpassed in fertility. The mountains are round about. Attracted by the beauty and fertility of the valley, many citizens of culture and wealth removed to it, and it became and has continued to this day a most delightful station.
” (- A History of Methodism in Georgia & Florida) The Cedar Creek Circuit covered some 1,400 square miles and ran through Jasper, Jones and Baldwin County, and a part of Putnam County, which was the county of Rev. Peurifoy’s birth. “Clinton, the county-site of Jones, was an appointment in the old Cedar Creek Circuit. It was a place of considerable importance, being in the midst of a fine cotton-producing country. In it there was much wealth and style, and alas ! infidelity and dissipation.

At the January 1835 meeting of the Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, young Reverend Peurifoy was serving in the St. Mary’s District. The conference was poorly attended “owing to the inclement weather.” It was reported that 27 ministers had not returned to appointments because of retirement or other reasons. Seventeen new ministers were appointed on trial. Peurifoy was one the few ministers in the conference without an appointment.

By 1838 Louisa had given her husband two children, Elizabeth Peurifoy and Lovic Pierce Peurifoy. Reverend Peurifoy was assigned to the Alachua Mission in the Florida Territory. The mission station was about two miles from the plantation home of Louisa’s father, Captain Daniel Bird and about twelve miles from Suwannee Springs, FL. The Peurifoys worked, and worked their enslaved people to carve a homestead for the Peurifoys out of the wilderness.

It was a perilous time to be on the southern frontier. There was a rising storm of conflict between the growing European-American population and Native Americans who violently resisted subjugation and removal to lands west of the Mississippi. Indians and whites spilled blood across Wiregrass Georgia and Florida. The Indian Wars had been underway since 1836. In Berrien County, GA skirmishes had been fought along the Alapaha River and a battle at Brushy Creek. In 1838, Captain Levi J. Knight had a militia company in the field in south Georgia.

But in the Florida Territory it was said the real fighting was a hundred miles distant from the area where the Peurifoys were homesteading, and part of Rev. Peurifoy’s Methodist mission was ministry to the Indians. He continued in his work and travels in the Alachua Mission, undoubtedly thinking his family was safe enough on their north Florida homestead.

That sense of security was shattered when the Peurifoy home place was destroyed. Louisa, her children and the Peurifoy’s enslaved people were at the homestead on the evening of March 31, 1838 when the Indians attacked. Her husband was away at a meeting of the church conference perhaps a two- or three-days ride distant. Within days, vivid accounts of the massacre were widely circulated in newspapers across the Wiregrass.

Reports of the Peurifoy massacre first appeared in the Tallahassee Floridian edition of Saturday, April 6, 1838. The report was reprinted in the Edgefield Advertiser on April 19, 1838. Mrs. Peurifoy was a native of Edgefield, SC.

 – On Saturday evening last, about dark, a party of Indians, supposed to number 30 or 40, attacked the dwelling of Mr. Purifoy, residing in the vicinity of the previous depredations, murdered two children and three negroes, plundered and set fire to the buildings, and made their escape – the children were burned in the dwelling. Mrs. Purifoy, although severely wounded, miraculously made her escape from the savages.  When the attack was made there were none but females about the premises, a fact supposed to have been known to the Indians.  Mrs. P. was lying in bed with her two children, heard a noise in her room and on looking up found it filled with Indians, who commenced discharging their rifles, several of them aimed at herself and children.  The children it is supposed were killed at once. Mrs. P. received a ball in her shoulder, which passed out at her breast. The savages next commenced hacking and stabbing her with their knives, and inflicted a number of severe wounds on her head and several parts of her body.  Their attention was a moment directed from her to a noise made by the servants in an adjoining room, when Mrs. P. taking advantage of this circumstance escaped to the yard, where she was again shot down, but succeeded in gaining the woods, intending to reach her father’s residence, Capt. Daniel Bird, about two miles distant.  Faint from the loss of blood and the severity of wounds, she was unable to proceed more than half a mile, where she was found next morning.   Mrs. P. received, we understand, ten distinct wounds, several very severe, but her physician entertains strong hopes of her recovery. – To heighten the catastrophe, Mr. Purifoy, whose children and slaves were slain, was absent from home, fulfilling his ministerial duties.
     As soon as the attack was discovered, the troops at Camp Carter, under Capt. Shehee, were sent for, but the Indians had dispersed in three parties and fled. Maj. Taylor with Capt. Newsam’s company joined Capt. S. on Monday morning, and have followed the several trails, but with what success we have not understood.
   The house attacked is several miles within the frontier settlements – the houses of most of which are picketed in. We trust the occurrence will awaken the United States authorities to do something more for the protection of our frontier. – Tallahassee Floridian

The wounded Louisa was carried on a makeshift stretcher to her father’s house. Most thought her wounds so grievous she could not live. When a letter carrying word of the attack reached Reverend Peurifoy at the conference he rushed home, but could not have arrived sooner than four or five days after the attack. Louisa, gravely wounded, was still clinging to life. In anguish, Rev. Peurifoy wrote a letter to his friend William Capers, a fellow Methodist minister and editor of the Southern Christian Advocate. Capers published the letter and news of the Peurifory Massacre was printed in newspapers around the world.

In time, Louisa got better, although some said she never fully recovered. Her little children, her home, her furnishings, all her possessions were lost. Of their Florida homestead, only the 11 surviving African-Americans enslaved by the Peurifoys remained.

Within months of the attack, Tillman Dixon Peurifoy submitted a claim to the federal government seeking compensation for “slaves killed by Indians.” Under an act of Congress, citizens were entitled to receive payment for their loss of “slave property.” But the House Committee on Indian Depredation Claims found adversely for Peurifoy’s claim, as the Government was “not liable for the loss of private property taken by the public enemy in time of war.

Tilman Dixon Peurifoy claim for Indian Depredations, United States House of Representatives.
Tilman Dixon Peurifoy claim for Indian Depredations, United States House of Representatives.

January 22, 1839
Read, and laid upon the table.

Mr. Giddings from the Committee of Claims, submitted the following REPORT:

The Committee of Claims, to whom was committed the petition of T. D. Peurify, report:

That the memorialist, in his petition, states that, on the first day of April, A. D. 1838, during the temporary absence of the petitioner, the Indians burnt his dwelling-house, situated in Jefferson county, in the Territory of Florida, destroyed his personal property, (including his household furniture,) and murdered three of his slaves, for which he asks indemnity.
The committee view the claim, as stated by the petitioner, to be one of those cases of loss by Indian depredations which have so often come before the committee and the House of Representatives, and on which indemnity has been uniformly refused. The Committee refer to the report of the Committee of Claims upon the memorial of the Legislature of the State of Alabama, made at the last session of the present Congress, (vide Reps. of Com. vol. 4, No. 932,) where the principles of that report, and recommend to the House the adoption of the following resolution:
Resolved, That the petition is not entitles to relief.
Thomas Allen, print.

After the massacre, Tillman Dixon Peurifoy took his wife and surviving enslaved people out of the Florida Territory and returned to Georgia. In the census of 1840 Tillman and Louisa, now with a young son, and 11 enslaved people were enumerated at Grooverville, GA. Grooverville was at the crossing of the Thomasville & Madison Road, and Sharpe’s Store Road, perhaps 15 miles east northeast of Bunker Hill. Lebanon Church, the Methodist house of worship at Grooverville, had been established about 1832.

Tillman D. Peurifoy was then appointed to the Troupville station in the Florida District, Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Troupville, GA about 30 miles east of Grooverville, was then the seat of government of Lowndes County, GA. Troupville was the center of commerce and social activity for the region. The town was situated immediately in the fork made by the confluence of the Withlacoochee and Little rivers.  It was the site of the Lowndes County courthouse and jail, hotels, Methodist and Baptist churches, stores, shops, doctors and lawyers. Among residents of the town circa 1840 were William McAuley, Hiram Hall, John Studstill, William Lastinger, Joseph S. Burnett, William McDonald, William D. Branch, Jonathan Knight, William Smith, and James O. Goldwire.  “Of the merchants who did business there in the old days, were Moses and Aaron Smith,  E. B. Stafford,  Uriah Kemp, and Alfred Newburn,” according to an 1899 Sketch of Old Lowndes County. The Knight family, who were the original pioneer settlers of present day Ray City, GA, were among the prominent citizens of Lowndes County who frequented the town.

In January, 1841 the Peurifoys likely suffered yet another setback when floodwaters of the Harrison Freshet inundated Troupville. The low-lying town was completely flooded. When the annual Georgia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church convened in Macon, GA that month, Robert Howren was appointed to Troupville. No station appointment was reported for Tillman D. Peurifoy.

Between tragic losses in 1838 and possibly further difficulties in the flood of 1841, the Peurifoys were struggling financially. To get by Rev. Peurifoy was forced to borrow money from wealthier men in the area. He borrowed from John Bellamy, a planter in the Florida Territory; Thomas County, GA plantation owner Mitchell Brady Jones; Postmaster Daniel McCranie; Ebenezer J. Perkins; Thomas Robinson; and others. Given Wiregrass Georgia’s burgeoning slave economy, many of these loans were secured or settled through the mortgaging, selling or trading of enslaved peoples. Peurifoy himself was enumerated in the 1840 Census as the owner of 14 enslaved people. In the Grooverville district of Thomas County where the Peurifoys lived, more than half of the residents were enumerated as “owners” of enslaved African Americans. In Thomas County, the population in 1840 was 3,836 whites and 2,930 enslaved African-Americans;  by 1860 the enslaved population of Thomas County outnumbered the white population 6,244 to 4,488.

In January, 1842, Tillman D. Peurifoy borrowed $3,500 dollars from John Bellamy (1777-1845), putting up seven enslaved people as collateral for the loan. Bellamy was one of the wealthiest planters and most prominent political figures in the Florida Territory. His 3000 acre plantation was in Jefferson County along the Aucilla River east of Monticello. In 1826, Bellamy had been the government contractor for the construction of the Bellamy Road which was built with the labor of enslaved African Americans, and followed the path of the Old St. Augustine Road from St. Augustine to Tallahassee. Like the Coffee Road in south Georgia, the Bellamy Road did much to open the north Florida Territory for settlement.

In January 1843, Reverend Peurifoy was appointed to the Methodist station for Cuthbert and Fort Gaines, GA on the Chattahoochee River. Fort Gaines was the site of the Fort Gaines Female Institute and the Independent College for Young Men, boarding schools (not colleges as that word is used today) founded by Sereno Taylor, a prominent Baptist minister and owner of four enslaved people.

The financial woes of the Peurifoys continued in 1843. Legal documents show authorities in Leon County, Florida ordered the sale of his goods to settle debts, including the sale of people he enslaved.

Reverend Peurifoy had apparently been unable to repay the loan from John Bellamy and on January 19, 1843 Bellamy petitioned Judge Samuel James Douglas of the Superior Court of the Middle District of Florida for satisfaction. An abstract of the petition states the following without noting the outcome.

John Bellamy seeks to foreclose on a mortgage for seven slaves, signed by Tilman D. Peurifoy on 8 January 1842 as security for a promissory note of $3,500. The plaintiff maintains that Peurifoy has “wholly neglected and refused and still doth refuse to pay the same or any part thereof to your petitioner.” Bellamy asks that the slaves be sold, and if the proceeds of the sale are not sufficient to pay the debt, that other property of Peurifoy be subject to sale.

UNC Race & Slavery Project

In Thomas County, GA the Peurifoys were forced to give up their household possessions to be auctioned off to satisfy debts owed to Thomas Robinson and Daniel McCranie.

Legal advertisement in the Milledgeville Southern Recorder announcing the auction of household goods and personal property belonging to Tilman D. Peurifoy to satisfy debts owed to Thomas Robinson and Daniel McCranie.

In order to satisfy a debt owed to the firm of Jones & Baily the Thomas County Sheriff seized “slave property” of the Peurifoys in the person of the enslaved man Shedrach. The 30-year-old African-American man had likely been born into slavery in the United States to live in bondage his entire life. (The Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves went into effect January 1, 1808, although some smuggling of slaves continued in southern states all the way up to the Civil War.  But the population of enslaved people continued to grow in the U.S. and the domestic slave trade flourished.)

Legal announcements in the April 25, 1843 edition of the Milledgeville Southern Recorder advertising the forced sale of an enslaved man named Shedrach and household property of Tilman Dixon Peurifoy.

Peurifoy also owed money to Ebenezer J. Perkins and others. Perkins was known as a money lender… and known for assiduously collecting the debts owed to him. Perkins had been indicted in May 1831 “for the offense of malicious mischief in breaking open the door of the boarding house of Isaac P. Brooks to the great annoyance of Mr. Brooks and his boarders.” At one time Perkins had partnered with Hamilton Sharpe, the well-know Methodist, merchant, and postmaster in Lowndes County, GA. In April 1843, Ebenezer J. Perkins, Mitchell B. Jones, and the firm of Jones & Bailey demanded the auction of a Thomasville city lot owned by Peurifoy in order to collect money Peurifoy owed them. A year later, Perkins was stabbed to death after attending the hanging of Samuel Mattox at Troupville, GA.

Thomas Sheriff’s Sales
Will be sold before the Court house door in the town of Thomasville, Thomas county, on the first Tuesday in April next, within the usual hours of sale, the following property, to wit…
one lot in the town of Thomasville, known as No 3, in square letter E, containing one half acre, with all the improvements thereon – levied on as the property of Tilman D. Purifoy to satisfy the following fi fas, two in favor of Mitchell B. Jones, one in favor of Ebenezer J. Perkins, and one in favor of Jones & Bailey, all vs said Tilman D. Purifoy

Milledgeville Southern Recorder, April 04, 1843

Even Reverend Peurifoy’s fellow Methodist ministers were among the debt collectors. Rev. Anderson Peeler, a circuit rider in the Florida District, acquired a lien against Peurify which had originally been filed by Mitchell B. Jones in the Thomas County, GA Inferior Court. At Rev. Peeler’s request the Thomas County Sheriff seized “property” owned Peurifoy to be auctioned off to settle the debt owed to him. The “property” was an enslaved African-American woman named Polly, who had likely suffered all the 50 years of her life in bondage. The “slave auction” was held on the steps of the Thomas County Courthouse, at Thomasville, GA.

Legal announcement advertising the forced sale of Polly, a woman enslaved by Methodist minister Tilman Dixon Peurifoy. The sale was ordered to satisfy debts debts owed to another Methodist minister. Milledgeville Southern Recorder, July 4, 1843.

In 1843, the Georgia Conference of the Methodist church assigned Rev. T.D. Peurifoy to the station at Cuthbert and Ft. Gaines, GA.

James O. Andrew, slave-owning Methodist Bishop, of Georgia. Image source: public domain.

By the 1840s, the ownership of enslaved people by ordained ministers generated substantial controversy within the Methodist Episcopal Church, as the national organization had long opposed slavery.  John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, had been appalled by slavery. Bishop James O. Andrew, of Georgia, was criticized by the 1844 General Convention for his ownership of enslaved people and suspended from office until such time as he should end his “connection with slavery.” Southern members disputed the Convention’s authority to discipline the bishop or to require slave-owning clergy to emancipate the people whom they considered as property. The differences over enslavement of human beings that would divide the nation during the mid-19th century were also dividing the Methodist Episcopal Church. The 1844 dispute led Methodists in the South to break off and form a separate denomination, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MEC,S), that accommodated slave ownership for its leaders as well as its members. By 1850 the U.S. Census of “Slave Inhabitants” of Georgia shows that Bishop James O. Andrew was the “slave owner” of 24 enslaved people.

Rev. T.D. Peurifoy was given the station at Lumpkin, GA for 1844. In January 1845, he was preaching in the Augusta District and assigned to the Waynesboro station. His circuit then included New Hope Church at Hephzibah, GA, one of the unheated, hewn log churches of the old pioneer days. “It was the rule or custom of this church to construe attendance upon its ‘love feasts’ for three consecutive occasions as prima facie evidence of a desire to enter its communion.” By about 1847, the membership had dwindle such that it ceased to serve as a house of worship.

In 1845, The Peurifoys were still deeply in debt. Louisa Peurifoy’s grandfather Zachariah S. Brooks gave her three enslaved people; a young African-American woman, her daughter, and her ten-year-old brother. These three enslaved people were deeded to Edmund Penn to hold in trust for Louisa, likely a move to protect this “slave property” from seizure by her husband’s creditors and to assure that they remained Louisa’s “property.” But in 1854, the Peurifoys would petition the State of South Carolina to break the trust and allow them to sell the enslaved young man, now 19 years-of-age.

Petition to the Chancellors of the State of South Carolina
Abstract:

Louisa and T. D. Peurifoy seek to sell a slave, whom she holds in trust. In 1845, Louisa’s grandfather, Zachariah S. Brooks, deeded to “Edmund Penn three negro slaves to wit Emily & her child Sarah & her brother Allen to be had & held in trust for” Louisa. Allen “is now about nineteen years old & is stout and able-bodied– but the said Allen is at the same time refractory, insubordinate & unruly.” The Peurifoys “have endeavored to control & govern him but in vain– that the said Allen will not submit to their authority or discipline & the result has been that the said slave contributes but little to their comfort or profit.” The Peurifoys pray that the court authorize Penn “to make sale” of Allen “and to invest the proceeds of such sale in the purchase of one or more negro slaves of more docile & submissive character.”

UNC Digital Library on American Slavery

The Peurifoys remained in the area of Augusta for the next couple of years. In 1846 they were living at The Rocks, about five miles from the city. They continued to sell off or rent out their enslaved people.

T.D. Peurifoy offers enslaved people for sale or rent in a September 27, 1846 advertisement in the Augusta Daily Chronicle

In 1846 Reverend T. D. Purifoy’s station was the Columbia Circuit. In 1847, he was sent to the Louisville Station.

Meanwhile, back in Florida, debt collectors were still after Peurifoy for the money he had borrowed from John Bellamy in 1842. Bellamy had died in 1845, but the Administrator of the Estate sought satisfaction in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, FL. Whether Peurifoy responded to the court order to return to Florida or ever made good on the debt is not known.

Reverend Tilman D. Peurifoy summoned to appear before the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Florida. Legal advertisement, Tallahassee Floridian, December 18, 1847.

Some time before 1850, the Peurifoys left Georgia and returned to Louisa’s roots in Edgefield County, SC, about 25 miles north of Augusta, GA. The 1850 enumeration of the Peurifoys in the Edgefield District lists Reverend and Mrs. Peurifoy, and their children, Daniel B. Peurifoy, Mary I. Peurifoy, Martha C. Peurifoy, and Eliza Peurifoy. Also in the Peurifoy household was a carpenter named John Dean.

1850 Census enumeration of Tilman D. Peurifoy and Louisa A. Peurifoy in Edgefield District, South Carolina.

Schedule 2 “Slave Inhabitants” in the 1850 Census shows that Rev. Peurifoy was the “Slave owner” of 14 enslaved people.

The 1850s saw a great revival among the Methodists in Edgefield, SC and Reverend T.D. Peurifoy played a prominent role in organizing the camp meetings that drove the revival spirit. In 1851, Peurifoy served on the Building Committee for Bethlehem Camp Ground

A multitude of religious revivals within the Methodist faith in Edgefield were reported throughout the decade in the pages of the Advertiser. The majority of these occurred at spring and summer camp meetings at both Mount Vernon Camp Ground and Bethlehem Camp Ground, both prominent Methodist camp meeting locations in the county… All of these drew large, passionate crowds and produced large numbers of conversion experiences and increased church membership… These revivals were a very public outpouring of religious fervor, and were instrumental in placing the evangelical faith at the forefront of community life in Edgefield.

Fighting For Revival
A notice in The Edgefield Advertiser, October 16, 1851 seeking a contractor for construction of an arbor at Bethlehem Camp Ground.

In South Carolina, Peurifoy’s preaching took him to New Chapel Church in Newberry County, about 40 miles north of Edgefield. An intimate friend…says in the Christian Neighbor, “I knew brother Peurifoy in the strength of his manhood, his sermons were pungent and powerful. He possessed the power of sharpening the arrows of truth, and hurling them with tremendous force into the ranks of the enemies of the cross. I first heard him in Newberry at New Chapel. Crowds flocked to hear him, and hung on his lips. Many were awakened and converted.

In 1855, T.D. Peurifoy was in the Shelbyville District, SC. But in 1856, he was “located” at his own request.

By 1860, it seems the Peurifoys had recovered from their previous debt. In the Census of 1860, Reverend Peurifoy’s real estate and personal property were valued at $22,875, which probably placed him in the top 10 percent of the wealthiest people in the Saluda Regiment, Edgefield District, South Carolina. Tillman Peurifoy’s occupation was given as farming. Much of the Peurifoys wealth was represented in the 15 people they enslaved, who ranged from an 80-year-old woman to a four-year-old girl. The Peurifoy’s son, Daniel, worked as the Overseer.

1860 census enumeration of Louisa Bird and Tillman Dixon Peurifoy, Saluda Regiment, Edgefield District, South Carolina.

It appears Louisa & Tillman Peurifoy remained in Edgefield County throughout the Civil War. Their son, Daniel Bird Peurifoy, served in the Confederate Army.

About 1862, Rev. Peurifoy suffered a paralytic stroke, “his strength failed, but he continued to preach as often as he could.” He was a representative of the Butler Circuit at the July 30, 1868 Cokesbury District Meeting of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South at Edgefield Courthouse. Peurifoy was appointed to the Committee on Family and Religion. His old friend William T. Capers was the delegate from the Cokesbury station.

Children of Louisa Bird and Tillman Dixon Peurifoy (birth dates from census records):

  1. Elizabeth Peurifoy (unknown–1838)
  2. Lovic Pierce Peurifoy (unknown–1838)
  3. Daniel Byrd Peurifoy (1839–1909), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  4. Mary Jane Peurifoy (1843–1910), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  5. Martha C. Peurifoy (1846–1900), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  6. Eliza A. Peurifoy (1849–1872), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  7. William Bascom Peurifoy (1854–1927), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  8. Julia Butler Peurifoy (1855–1931), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery
  9. Sallie Peurifoy (1858–1931), burial at Butler UMC Cemetery

The Census of 1870 shows that the Peurifoys remained in Edgefield County in the Saluda Division during Reconstruction. Their post office was at Oakland. The value of Peurifoy’s total estate had been reduced to $400 dollars.

1870 Census enumeration of the household of Tillman Dixon Peurifoy and Louisa Peurifoy.

In April, 1872 Reverend Peurifoy had a second stroke, “his work was done. He lingered for several weeks – never murmured, but was patient and resigned to the will of God from the beginning. And when he could no longer tell us, as he frequently had, of the peace and joye he realized through faith in Christ, (having lost the power of speech,) he would make signs with the hand he could move.” Rev. Peurifoy died June 4, 1872. He was buried in the cemetery at Butler Church, Saluda, SC.

The following tribute of respect was passed at Butler Church Conference, South Carolina.

Whereas, It has pleased Almighty God in his wise providence, to take out of this world the soul of our beloved brother, Rev. T. D. Peurifoy; therefore,

Resolved, That in the death of the Rev. T. D. Peurifoy, the Church has lost one of her most faithful ministers, the community one of its most honorable citizens.
2. That although we mourn the sad loss we have sustained in the death of brother Peurifoy, we bow in humble submission to the will of Him whose ways are true and righteous altogether.
3. That this Church Conference tender our hearty sympathies to the wife and children of the deceased, in this their sad bereavement, and commend them to the protection of Him, who has promised that His grace shall be sufficient at all times, for those who love, serve and obey Him.
Rev. G. W. McCreighton, Ch’n.
W. S. Crouch, Sec.

Southern Christian Advocate, October 23, 1872

Louisa Peurifoy died July 4, 1878. She was buried next to her husband in the Butler Church cemetery.

Grave of Louisa A. Peurifoy (1816-1878), wife of Reverend Tilman D. Peurifoy. Butler United Methodist Church Cemetery, Saluda, SC.

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Paswell Purvis (1921-1937)

Paz-Purvis-detail
Paswell “Paz” Purvis, of Ray City, GA. Son of Guy Marvin Purvis and Arlie M. Guthrie

Paz Purvis was born March 5, 1921. His parents, Marvin and Arlie Purvis, were long time residents of Ray City and operated Purvis Grocery Store there.

Paswell “Paz” Purvis, son of Arlie and Marvin Purvis, Ray City, GA

In 1937, just days before Paz’s 16th birthday, he rode with Charlie J. Shaw and June McGee to see the Ray City girls’ basketball team play in a tournament at Pearson, GA. Basketball was the sport at Ray City School, and the girls’ and boys’ teams were the pride of the town. Shaw was a next door neighbor of the Purvises and an automobile mechanic in Ray City; his daughter was playing in the tournament. McGee was the owner of the June Cafe, one of the Ray City historic businesses.

June McGee was driving that night. The route from Ray City to Pearson was about 40 miles. A little before 8:30 pm the men were passing through Willacoochee, GA. As they exited the town they approached the railroad crossing of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. In the dark they didn’t see the train that was stopped on the tracks.

The Butler Herald edition of March 4, 1937 reported the fatal automobile accident which occurred on February 24, 1937, in which Paz Purvis, Charlie J. Shaw and June McGee were killed.

THE BUTLER HERALD
MARCH 4, 1937

3 GEORGIANS KILLED WHEN AUTO PLUNGES INTO STANDING TRAIN
Willacoochee, Ga., Feb. 25.—Three Ray City men were killed Wednesday night when their auto plunged into the cars of a freight train, stopped at a water tank at Willacoochee. The grade crossing at which the accident occurred is located in the city limits. The dead: Charles Shaw, June McGee and Paz Purvis. Shaw and McGee were instantly killed and Purvis died half an hour later en route to a Douglas hospital. The auto was demolished in the crash. The three men were en route to Pearson to attend a basketball tournament in which Shaw’s daughter, Gwendolyn, was to take part.

The three men were buried at Ray City, GA. Paz Purvis was interred at New Ramah Cemetery. It seems that the monument on his grave was not added until some years later, as it incorrectly gives the date of his death as February 24, 1934.

Grave of Paswell “Paz”Purvis with incorrect death date. Source: Robert Strickland
Paz Purvis
Paz Purvis

Paz Purvis and his parents now rest together at New Ramah Cemetery, the former site of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, at Ray City, GA. The burial grounds are quiet except for the susurrations of the south Georgia piney woods.

✝✝✝


Charles Jones Shaw (January 24, 1901 – February 24, 1937)
Son of Susie Bullard and Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw. Survived by his wife, Marie Dudley Shaw, and daughter, Gwendolyn Shaw. Interred at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

June Ruffus McGee (March 3, 1910 – February 24, 1937)
Son of Mary Jane Bostick (1875-1941) and David Judson “Jut” McGee (1876-). Survived by his wife, Edith Della Gaskins (1914-1999) and daughter, Hazel Ida McGee (1931-2015). Interred at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Paswell “Paz” Purvis (March 5, 1921 – February 24, 1937)
Son of Arlie Guthrie (1890-1976) and Guy Marvin Purvis (1899-1975). Brother of Treswell Purvis (1917-1968) and June Errol Purvis (1928-2002). Interred at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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Married on Thanksgiving

Paul Payne Patten

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Paul Payne Patten, son of Ida Lou Hall and James Marcus Patten of Ray City, GA, married Marion Inez Lanham of Atlanta. 

On Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1936,  Ray City, GA and the rest of the country were still in the midst of the Great Depression.  Ed Rivers had just been elected governor of Georgia and Franklin D. Roosevelt re-elected to his second term. It was the first Thanksgiving ever celebrated by a U.S. president abroad; Roosevelt had Thanksgiving dinner in the south Atlantic on board the battleship USS Indianapolis on his way to the Inter-American Peace Conference in Buenos Aires.  Marion Inez Lanham and Paul Payne Patten celebrated Thanksgiving by getting married. 

Marion Inez Lanham engagement photo 1936

Marion Inez Lanham engagement photo 1936

 

The bride was the 24-year-old daughter of Charles Marion Lanham and Myrtle I. Prichard.    Her father was a dispatcher or “trainmaster” for steam trains on the Seaboard Rail Road. He was a Presbyterian and a member of the W. D. Lucky lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons. Her mother was Myrtle I. Prichard, daughter of Dr. John Emory Prichard.  Marion Inez Lanham was a graduate of the Girls High School, an all-white, girls-only public high school which had been established in Atlanta during Reconstruction.

Girls High School building, Atlanta, GA. Photographed 1956.

Girls High School building, Atlanta, GA. Photographed 1956.

The groom was Paul Payne Patten, born July 4, 1910, the son of educators who taught at the Ray City School and other community schools in the area. He was 5’6″ inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown eyes, brown hair and a ruddy complexion. Paul and his brother Edwin James Patten attended the all-white Georgia School of Technology, now Georgia Tech, in Atlanta, GA; The brothers graduated together in 1934, both receiving degrees in mechanical engineering. 

Paul Payne Patten of Ray City, GA

Paul Payne Patten of Ray City, GA

 

Georgia School of Technology, now Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA

Georgia School of Technology, now Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA

After graduation, Paul Patten obtained a job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service. He worked at Camp Lucretia, near Villa Rica, GA, which was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal programs to provide work for unemployed men. During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was at 25 percent. The camp was one of the 2,650 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps that employed more than 600,000 men across the nation from 1933 to 1942. Ray City men served at the CCC camp at Homerville, GA.  Even though the federal law creating the CCC declared “no discrimination shall be made on account of race, color, and creed,” the National Park Service documents how in Georgia, African-Americans were excluded from CCC camps. The CCC opportunities were for white men.  According to Georgia Department of Transportation archeologist Terri Lotti, the work at “Camp Lucretia included seed collection, building terrace outlets, gully control and road construction within a 10-mile radius of the camp in Carroll, Haralson, Paulding and Douglas counties. The young men of the camp also built furniture using lumber from land-clearing operations in the area, selling the furniture in town…vocational training and other education was one of the most important aspects of CCC camp life [at Camp Lucretia] because it gave the enrollees a better chance to find a job when they discharged. Education initially included courses on adult literacy, typing, first aid, salesmanship, citizenship, arithmetic, reading, writing and leathercraft, but were later expanded to include algebra, astronomy, civics, auto mechanics, carpentry, cooking and photography.

Camp Lucretia, SCS-4, Villa Rica, GA

Men of Camp Lucretia. During the Great Depression, Camp Lucretia SCS-4, provided work and education for unemployed white men in Villa Rica, GA.

 

Marion Inez Lanham and Paul Payne Patten had announced their engagement in the October 18, 1836 edition of the Atlanta Constitution.

Engagement of  Marion Inez Lanham to Paul Payne Patten 1936

Engagement of Marion Inez Lanham to Paul Payne Patten 1936

Atlanta Constitution
October 18, 1936
Miss Lanham Weds Mr. Patten at Thanksgiving Ceremony

Miss Marion Inez Lanham

Announcement is made today by Mr. and Mrs. Charles Marion Lanham of the engagement of their daughter, Marion Inez, to Paul Payne Patten, the marriage to take place on Thanksgiving Day.
Miss Lanham is the eldest of three daughters, her sisters being Misses Carolyn and Eleanor Lanham. Her mother was formerly Miss Myrtle Prichard, daughter of the late Dr. John E. Prichard, prominent north Georgia physician, and the late Mrs. Sallie Prichard. The bride-elect graduated from Girls High School.  Mr. Patten is the son of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Patten, of Ray City, Ga. His sister is Miss Ruth Patten, and his brothers are Hall Patten, of Ray City; Edwin Patten of  Villa Rica. His mother was before her marriage Miss Ida Lou Hall. He is a graduate of Georgia School of Technology, in the class of 1934, and is connected with the United States Department of Agriculture.

Six weeks later the couple were married.

Marriage of Marion Inez Lanham and Paul Payne Patten reported in the Atlanta Constitution, November 27, 1936.

Marriage of Marion Inez Lanham and Paul Payne Patten reported in the Atlanta Constitution, November 27, 1936.

Miss Lanham Weds Paul Payne Patten At Home Ceremony

Of interest was the marriage Thanksgiving afternoon of Miss Marion Inez Lanham, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Marion Lanham, to Paul Payne Patten, which was solemnized at 5:30 o’clock at the home of the brides parents on Wesley avenue, in the presence of an assemblage of friends and relatives. Dr. E. T. Wilson, pastor of the Peachtree Road Presbyterian church, performed the ceremony.
A musical program was rendered by Mrs. J. Stephen Hughes, pianist, and J. G. Bentley, vocalist, sang “I Love You Truly,” “Because” and “The Sweetest Story Ever Told.” The improvised altar in the living room was banked with foliage plants and palms and combined with pedestal basket trimmed with Easter lilies and pompoms and seven-branched cathedral candelabra holding burning white tapers.
Miss Carolyn Lanham, sister of the bride, was maid of honor. She was lovely in a princess model of pale green brocaded satin and she carried talisman roses. Little Miss Ann Lou Patten, niece of the groom, who was a flower girl, wore a princess model of pink taffeta and she carried a nosegay.
Entering with her father, by whom she was giving in marriage, the bride was met at the altar by the groom and his brother, Edwin Patten, who was best man. The bride wore a beautiful gown of white satin, made with a tight-fitting jacket of lace which extended in the back to the full length of her long train. Her bridal veil of misty white tulle was held to her hair by orange blossoms. She carried a bouquet of bride’s roses and valley lilies.
Mr. and Mrs. Lanham entertained at an informal reception after the ceremony. Assisting in entertaining were Mesdames Hall Patten, Edwin Patten, Luther Hamilton, R.R. Lanham and Misses Ruth Patten, Maybelle Prichard, MayBeth Prichard and Mary Curtis. Miss Eleanor Lanham, sister of the bride, kept the bride’s book. She wore peach taffeta. Mrs. Lanham was handsomely attired in a wine velvet gown and she wore a shoulder bouquet of white rosebuds. Miss Ruth Patten, sister of the groom, wore royal blue velvet and her corsage was pink rosebuds.
Mr. Patten and his bride left for their wedding trip to Florida and upon their return they will reside with the bride’s parents on Wesley avenue. For traveling the bride wore a smart three piece suit of gray wool trimmed with Persian lamb and her hat and accessories were gray.

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Black Doughboys and White Sparrows

During World War I, 404,348 black troops served in segregated units of the US army. There were 639 African-American officers, over 100 black physicians were officers in US Army Medical Corps, and 12 black men served as dental officers. 

 Edward James Cobb (1889-1956)

Edward J. Cobb was one of the 12 black officers in Dental Reserve Corps.

Edward James Cobb, First Lieutenant, Dental Corps, United States Army during WWI was born at Valdosta, GA.
Edward James Cobb, First Lieutenant, Dental Corps, United States Army during WWI was born at Valdosta, GA.

According to later passport documents, Edward James Cobb was born on April 20, 1889 at Valdosta, GA. His brother, Morris H. Cobb, taught in Berrien County, GA and was later a doctor in Valdosta, GA. Another brother, Richard H. Cobb, was a dentist in Columbus, GA.

In the segregated U.S. Army, black soldiers served in the two WWI African-American combat divisions, the 92nd and 93rd, and also in other army units.  In fact, the majority of black troops in World War I were in the support units, mainly quartermaster, stevedore, labor, and pioneer infantry regiments.  Dental officers were needed for these men also. Edward J. Cobb would serve overseas in World War I in the 92nd Division. Another area soldier in the 92nd Division was Carlos J. Boggs, of Ray City, GA.

Edward J. Cobb studied dentistry at the University of Iowa. On April 6, 1917, just weeks before he was to graduate, the United States formally declared war on Germany and entered World War I. The country rushed to mobilize an army and prepared to fight the war. Cobb completed his studies and entered the Army’s first black officers’ training program, The black Provisional Army Officer Training School  at  Fort Des Moines.  The training camp was conducted under the leadership of white officers, with General Charles Clarendon Ballou in command. The camp formally opened on June 15, 1917. The training would last 90 days and would prepare black officers to command all-black units of the segregated US Army.

World War I recruiting poster aims to encourage African Americans to enlist. In the poster, “Colored Man Is No Slacker,” a black soldier takes his leave against a background of African American patriotism, self-sacrifice, and courage. Image source: Library of Congress.

At the very time when African Americans so wanted the opportunity to demonstrate that their patriotism and abilities equaled those of white troops, racial violence flared throughout the country. That summer in East St. Louis, IL tensions escalated from labor disputes, to drive by shootings, to what the press called the East St. Louis Race War.

July 3, 1917. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reports the massacre of African-Americans in East St. Louis, KY.
July 3, 1917. The St. Louis Globe-Democrat reports the massacre of African-Americans in East St. Louis, KY.

Racial tensions began simmering in East St. Louis—a city where thousands of blacks had moved from the South to work in war factories—as early as February 1917… In the spring, the largely white workforce at the Aluminum Ore Company went on strike. Hundreds of blacks were hired. After a City Council meeting on May 28, angry white workers lodged formal complaints against black migrants. When word of an attempted robbery of a white man by an armed black man spread through the city, mobs started beating any African-Americans they found, even pulling individuals off of streetcars and trolleys. The National Guard was called in but dispersed in June. On July 1, a white man in a Ford shot into black homes. Armed African-Americans gathered in the area and shot into another oncoming Ford, killing two men who turned out to be police officers investigating the shooting. The next morning, whites pouring out of a meeting in the Labor Temple downtown began beating blacks with guns, rocks and pipes. They set fire to homes and shot residents as they fled their burning properties. Blacks were also lynched in other areas of the city…By early Monday morning, the whole neighborhood was on fire. By the end of the three-day crisis, the official death toll was 39 black individuals and nine whites.

Smithsonian Magazine

Hundreds more people were injured in the East St. Louis Race Riot. Property damage was estimated at $373,000 in damages (which would be over $100 million measured as relative project cost in 2021 dollars).

After the massacre in East St. Louis, the white community in Des Moines worried about relations with the black soldiers at Fort Des Moines. In a gesture of good will Holmes Calper, Dean of the Institute of Fine Arts at Drake University, invited the camp command to bring the black cadets to perform at a White Sparrow concert. The White Sparrows were Sunday afternoon concerts sponsored by Drake University for the benefit of a local charitable organization. Calper later reflected on the occasion:

At the beginning of the war a Colored Officers Training Camp was organized at Fort Des Moines. Twelve hundred of the pick of the colored race of America were stationed there. As some of these had already had misunderstandings with the townspeople at theatres, etc., many people wondered whether this aggregation was desirable. Several of us called upon their commanding officer to see if he would allow his men to participate in a “Sing” at the Stadium. He readily consented. The street car company transported the men into town, and as those twelve hundred colored men marched onto the gridiron, fifteen thousand people stood and cheered them to the echo. During the afternoon the men went through several drills and three hundred of the best singers stepped out and sang some of the famous negro melodies…The singing that day, with the assistance of the colored troops, was unusually good, the accompaniments being played by two bands… The affair closed with the ceremony of the lowering of the flag and from that day to this nothing but kind words are said of those splendid fellows.

Papers and proceedings of the Music Teachers’ National Association. (1919)
Sunday, July 22, 1917. African-American officer candidates from Ft. Des Moines perform at the stadium of Drake University.
Sunday, July 22, 1917. African-American officer candidates from Ft. Des Moines perform at the stadium of Drake University.

The “White Sparrow Patriotic Ceremony” was presented July 22, 1917 at Drake University stadium. At the event the black cadets marched and sang “Negro melodies” for a crowd of 15,000 spectators.

While the relationship between black soldiers at Fort Des Moines and the white population of city of Des Moines remained civil, this was not the case everywhere in America. One hundred and fifty-six black soldiers were implicated the Houston riot of August 23,1917; 11 white civilians, 5 white police officers, and four black soldiers were killed in the riot. One hundred seventeen black soldiers were court-martialed and 110 were convicted. Thirteen black soldiers were executed in a mass hanging and six more were hanged later; 91 were sentenced to various terms of confinement at the U.S. Penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. 

At the Fort Des Moines Provisional Officer Training School, Edward J. Cobb and the other officer cadets completed 90 days of rigorous technical and physical training. On October 15, 1917,  638 African-American captains and lieutenants received their commissions, including Lieutenant Cobb, and were dispatched for basic training at a variety of camps. For this accomplishment General Ballou, the white commander of the Provisional Army Officer Training School at Ft. Des Moines, enjoyed immense popularity among the African-American population at-large. But a few months later the black community was called for Ballou’s resignation after he gave orders telling black soldiers in the African-American 92nd Division to stay out of white establishments “where their presence will be resented…[the] public is nine-tenths white. White men made the Division, and they can break it just as easily if it becomes a trouble maker.”

Insignia shoulder patch for the 92nd Infantry Division. National Museum of African American History and Culture.


Buffalo Soldiers Division
In June, 1918, Lt. Cobb and the 92nd Division embarked at Hoboken, NJ. for the voyage to France. Hoboken was one of the great WWI embarkation points for American troops bound for overseas duty in France. It was the same port of embarkation from which Carlos J. Boggs, of Ray City, GA would depart to join the 367th Infantry, the Buffalo Infantry, 92nd Division. The ill-fated HMS Otranto would embark from Hoboken carrying a large contingent of Georgia troops, including a number from Berrien County, GA. Lawson Rentz of Ray City, GA was a medical officer in the Embarkation Service at Hoboken.


When the Buffalo Soldiers Division (92nd Division) arrived in France, they were shunned by American leaders at the top.  “The mass of the colored drafted men cannot be used for combatant troops”, said a General Staff report in 1918, and it recommended that “these colored drafted men be organized in reserve labor battalions.” They handled unskilled labor tasks as stevedores in the Atlantic ports and common laborers at the camps and in the Services of Supply in France.  Historian David M. Kennedy reports,

“Units of the black 92nd Division particularly suffered from poor preparation and the breakdown in command control. As the only black combat division, the 92nd Division entered the line with unique liabilities. It had been deliberately dispersed throughout several camps during its stateside training; some of its artillery units were summoned to France before they had completed their courses of instruction, and were never fully-equipped until after the Armistice; nearly all its senior white officers scorned the men under their command and repeatedly asked to be transferred. The black enlisted men were frequently diverted from their already attenuated training opportunities in France in the summer of 1918 and put to work as stevedores and common laborers.”

Kennedy, David M. 1982. Over Here: The First World War and American Society

The division did not receive assignments with the American Expeditionary Force, rather:

General John “Black Jack” Pershing was more than willing to lend [the division] to the French army to fight under the French command and flag. Parts of the 92nd would see combat action in France…These African-American soldiers would wear the American uniform, but would don the blue French helmet and utilize French military equipment. They quickly dispelled the American Army’s belief that they were inferior soldiers as they heroically and valiantly fought in fierce combat throughout the war. As a result of their actions, France would award several honors and medals upon multiple regiments in [the division]. Some of these noble awards were equivalent to the U.S. Medal of Honor. Several soldiers received the coveted French Croix de Guerre (Cross of War) medal for their exemplary and heroic fighting during WWI.

National Park Service. (2018) The Buffalo Soldiers in WWI.

Edward J. Cobb served in France throughout the war. After the Armistice he was transferred to the Medical Detachment of the 816th Pioneer Infantry. According to historian, Dr. Christopher Bean, after hostilities ceased, thousands of Pioneer Infantry men of the 813th, 815th and 816th were assigned the sobering task of collecting bodies, and body parts, from the battlefields of France as winter encroached and prepare them for burial. The 816th Pioneer Infantry was detailed to the Graves Registration Service at Romagne and was tasked with building the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery, the largest American cemetery in France. Twenty-one thousand American soldiers were buried there.

The 816th Pioneer Infantry returned to the US in July 1919 aboard the USS Manchuria, departing from St. Nazaire, France on July 8 and arriving at Hoboken, NJ on July 18, 1919.

Although research found no records of military awards to Edward J. Cobb, the WWI Victory Medal was awarded to military personnel for service between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918.

The Victory Medal was awarded to military personnel for service between April 6, 1917, and November 11, 1918.

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J.M. Knight left the “Goober State” for Miami

James Madison Knight (1879-1953) grew up in the Rays Mill District of Berrien County, GA; He was a great grandson of William Anderson Knight, pioneer settler of the district. His father was Ulysses A. Knight (1859-1934); his mother Mary J. Baskin (1861-1902). His father briefly served as postmaster of Rays Mill, GA. After attending Grand Bay School, near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City, GA), J.M. Knight attended Stanley’s Business College at Thomasville, GA. Other Rays Mill students at the college were Lane Young and W. D. Sloan. In 1904 J.M. Knight moved to Florida where he became a general contractor.

A biographical sketch of James M. Knight appeared in Cuthbert’s History of Florida, Volume 3, published in 1923:

James M. Knight, prominent contractor and builder at Miami, is a master of several of the basic arts involved in the building construction, and long mechanical skill and experience give him great advantage in directing his present organization and equipment for handling every class of building construction.
Mr. Knight was born near Valdosta, Georgia, in 1880, and represents a lineage that has been in Berrien County, Georgia, from earliest pioneer times. One of the earliest settlers there was his Great-grandfather [William Anderson] Knight, a rifle maker, who made many of the guns with which warfare was carried against Cherokee Indians. Mr. Knight’s ancestors were soldiers in the Indian wars, the Revolution, and later on the Confederate side in the war between the states. His two grandfathers, Jonathan H. Knight and J. N. [James Madison] Baskin, built the famous and historic school at Grand Bay, in Berrien County. Mr. Knight’s father, [Ulysses] Hugh A. Knight, came to Florida some years ago, and owns one of the finest farms in the state, a large place near Arcadia, stocked with fine cattle and containing citrus groves.
James M. Knight grew up on a Georgia farm, and from an early age took his place between the plow handles. His excellent education was due largely to the splendid Grand Bay school mentioned above. There he was an appreciative pupil under Dr. R. C. Woodard, then principal. Doctor Woodard was a teacher of genuine distinction, one who not only instilled learning, but character, into his pupils. After an honorary career as a school man Doctor Woodard took up the practice of medicine, and is now highly esteemed in his profession in Miami. James M. Knight also finished a course at Stanley’s Business College at Thomasville, Georgia.
His years were industriously spent on the farm until he was twenty-three. Then, in 1904, having learned the trade of stone mason, he came to Florida, locating at Tampa, and made the building trade his permanent business. After spending several years in building operations in and around Tampa and after a short period in the central part of the state, he came early in 1917 to Miami. Here he has been one of the busy contractors. One of his first large jobs as superintendent of construction was the Clyde Court Apartments. His business has involved both business and residence structures at Miami and Miami Beach. A few examples of his work that may be mentioned as an indication of the character and scope of his business include two large residences for Carl Fisher at Miami Beach, the beautiful home of E. B. Kurtz in Magnolia Park, the plastering and masonry contracts on the Ohio Hotel, the Keystone Hotel, the Leamington Hotel, the new building of the South Atlantic Telephone Company, and he was the builder of the drug store of Dr. D. S. Boles on Northeast Second Avenue, the Llewellen Building on North Miami Avenue, the Bishop Apartments on Miami Beach, the Municipal Warehouse, Municipal Dock for the City of Miami, and many other noted structures.
Mr. Knight is a member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Stanton Memorial Baptist Church. He married Miss Mary J. Swann, of Savannah, Georgia. They have three sons, G. B. [Girth Baskin Knight], U. A. [Ulysses A. Knight] and J. E. [James Earle] Knight.

Clyde Court Apartments, Miami, FL, 1921. Constructed by James Madison Knight, great grandson of William Anderson Knight, early pioneer of old Lowndes County, GA.

In 1920, J.M. Knight formed a partnership with George Lomas and for four years did business as the firm of Knight & Lomas. The company completed a large number of buildings before dissolving in 1924.

On New Years Day, 1924 The Miami News-Metropolis did a piece on the firm, in which it was observed the company was doing much to build up the city. About Knight, it was said,

J. M. Knight is a native of Georgia, in which state, in his earlier days, he followed the plow in fields of cotton, sugar cane and sweet potatoes, but as long as the demand continues in Miami for new buildings he has no intention of returning to the Goober state and the fields. He has his comfortable home in Miami, and prefers this to all localities he has seen.

But J.M. Knight was proud of his Georgia heritage. He and his sons were prime organizers in the Dade County Georgia Society. In 1922, the society put on a huge barbeque for the 4th of July. Among the south Georgians who removed to Miami were Lester Griffin & family, Lawson S. Rentz, Dr. D. Frank Rentz, and Benjamin L. Wilkerson.

During the Miami boom years from 1923 to 1926 J.M. Knight partnered with his brother Oliph May Knight under the name of Knight Construction Company. O.M. Knight invented and patented a cruise control device for automobiles, and built a manufacturing plant in Atlanta, GA.

The boom period in Miami construction ended with the Great Miami Hurricane of 1926. The Conners, of Ray City, GA were among Berrien County residents vacationing in south Florida when the storm hit. Lester Griffin’s family, who had moved to Fort Lauderdale, FL narrowly escaped the disaster, as they were visiting relatives in south Georgia; Lester Griffin rode out the storm in Fort Lauderdale.

The 1926 storm was described by the U.S. Weather Bureau in Miami as “probably the most destructive hurricane ever to strike the United States.” It hit Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Hollywood, Hallandale and Miami. The death toll is estimated to be from 325 to perhaps as many as 800. No storm in previous history had done as much property damage. 

1926 Miami: The blow that broke the boom

About 1928, James Madison Knight left Miami and moved to Birmingham, AL.

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J.T. Wilkes at James Millikin University

James Thomas Wilkes (1902-1962) was born February 14, 1902 at Adel, GA.
His father, J.T. Wilkes, Sr (1859-1920), a merchant at Adel, was invested in community affairs. J. T. Wilkes Sr served as Mayor of Adel for the 1891-92 term of office. J.T. Wilkes, Sr was a charter member of Adel First Baptist Church, organized about 1890-91. Wilkes and Joel J. Parrish donated a site, and Wilkes was instrumental in the construction of a church building. He was a stockholder in the Adel Electric Light & Power Company, which made the first effort to bring electricity to the residents of Adel. J. T. Wilkes, Sr. was a fellow investor with Dr. R.C. Woodard in commercial projects in the community.

James Thomas Wilkes, Senior photo at James Millikin University. 1924

In 1924, Wilkes was a student and an instructor at James Millikin University.

Wilkes attended Davidson College, Davidson, NC in 1919-1920. In Fall of 1920, he transferred to Bowling Green Business University, Bowling Green, KY where he attended through the summer of 1922. He completed the Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Finance at James Millikin University, Decatur, IL and earned the Master of Accounts degree.

James Thomas Wilkes, of Adel, GA, graduated in 1924 from James Milliken University with a Bachelor of Science in Commerce and Finance.
1923 Tau Kappa Epsilon at James Milliken University. James Thomas Wilkes, of Adel, GA was a member of the fraternity.
James Milliken University, Decatur, IL 1923
1924 Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity house at James Milliken University

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Early Automobiles in Berrien County, GA

Country doctors in the early 1900’s depended on the rural roads to see their patients. Doctors were frequently among the first in the community to purchase automobiles and were among the promoters of road and transportation development.

Dr. Pleasant H. Askew’s REO two-seater is believed to be the first automobile in Berrien County, GA. Dr. Pleasant H. Askew was a prominent physician, businessman and landowner of Nashville, GA. In the 1920s he purchased a farm from Sullivan J. Knight along Cat Creek about five miles north of Ray City, GA; it was one of several Berrien County properties he owned.

Dr. P. H. Askew and Delilah Hinson Drawdy, circa 1904.
Dr. P. H. Askew and Delilah Hinson Drawdy riding in an REO two-seater automobile circa 1905. The REO Motor Car Company produced automobiles and trucks from 1905 to 1975. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com
Newspaper clipping. Owner of first automobile. Dr. L. A. Carter, in car at right, was the first car owner in Nashville, GA. He is shown in the car, a Maxwell roadster. At left is a Valdosta, GA mechanic who drove up to repair Dr. Carter's car. A mechanic was not available in Nashville.
Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter (1858-1932), the first automobile owner in Nashville, GA, drove a Maxwell Roadster. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

The second gas vehicle in Berrien County was said to be a Maxwell car owned by Dr. Henry W. Clements. Henry W. Clements was a Physician who lived and practiced in Ray City, Georgia during the early days of the town.  He was one of the many Medical Men of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), who served the community over the years.

The Maxwell Motor Company produced a model called the Doctor’s Roadster, marketed especially to medical men, as seen in this advertisement from The Medical World magazine.

Advertisement for the Maxwell Motor Car in The Medical World Magazine. Dr. Henry W. Clements, of Ray City, GA owned a Maxwell.
Advertisement for the Maxwell Motor Car in The Medical World Magazine. Dr. Henry W. Clements, of Ray City, GA owned a Maxwell.

In Berrien County, GA the Maxwell line of cars was handled by W.P. Tittle & Co., a Nashville, GA firm from 1911 to around 1925. The firm, owned by  William Price Tittle, his brother Devlin Dunbar “Deb” Tittle, and brother-in-law Charlie G. Starling, was the first automobile dealer in Berrien County, GA.

Automobile dealership in Nashville, GA circa 1915 showing men and automobiles on the car lot.
Automobile dealership in Nashville, GA circa 1915

William David Sloan, born March 12, 1879 in the “Rays Mill District” (1144 Georgia Militia District), was another early car owner in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. William David Sloan and Julia Knight Rigell Sloan. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)
Dr. William David Sloan and his wife Julia Knight Rigell Sloan in an REO two seater. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)
Dr. William David Sloan and his automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.
Dr. William David Sloan and his Ford automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.

Dr. R. C. Woodard, of Adel, GA, acquired a Paige touring car, built in Detroit, MI. Robert Crawford Woodard was born in 1867 near Ray’s Mill (now Ray City, GA). He became an important an important figure medicine and education in Wiregrass Georgia. Henry W. Clements roomed with Dr. R. C. Woodard while the two were medical students at the medical college in Augusta, GA.

1917 Paige-Detroit Motor Car advertisement. Image courtesy of Bill Roberts. Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License .

Dr. George Hill Folsom owned a Ford Model T “Tin Lizzie” Touring Car.

Dr. George Hill Folsom & Family in their 1914 Ford Model T “Tin Lizzie” Touring Car. Dr. Folsom practiced medicine in Berrien and Lanier counties. He resided in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

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