1887 Family Feud at Ray’s Mill

In 1887,  James Thomas  Beagly, aka  Biggles, Beigles,  or  Beagles shot and killed his brother-in-law on the courtground at Rays Mill, GA.  The account below was published in the Columbus Enquirer-Sun, Nov. 11, 1887 — page 3.   For more details and additional Ray City, GA history, see http://raycity.pbworks.com/FrontPage

Terrible Result of an Old Feud.
Nashville, Ga., Nov. 9. – At Ray’s mill in this county, on Tuesday evening last, a dreadful encounter occurred in which M. G. Pearson was shot and instantly killed by J. T. Beagly, the cause being a family feud. It appears the parties had met to amicably settle the trouble if possible, but soon engaged in some hot words, when Pearson said to Beagly:
“Come out in the sand and we will settle the trouble.”
They started out. Beagly drew his pistol and fired upon him as he went out, and shot him dead the first fire, then took to the swamp and has not yet been captured.

Sullivan Jordan Knight ~ Obituary 1911

Sullivan Jordan "Sovin" Knight. Image courtesy of  the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight. Image courtesy of the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Sovin J. Knight lived in the Ray City area for many years before moving to the Barney area in 1911. Sullivan Jordan “Sovin” Knight   died April 16, 1911 shortly after the move.

His obituary was found in the Atlanta Georgian and News, Tuesday, Apr. 18, 1911 — page 9

S. J. Knight.
Nashville, Ga., April 18. – S. J. Knight, formerly of Berrien county, but now of Brooks, dropped dead Sunday. Mr. Knight had a case in the city court Saturday afternoon and had just returned to his home in Brooks county when he expired. Heart failure is said to have been the cause.

 Sovin J. Knight died in this home at Barney, GA, April 16, 1911.  Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Sovin J. Knight died in this home at Barney, GA, April 16, 1911. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

Related Posts:

 

Berrien Minute Men and Civil War Stories

Found the following account by Alexander Paris Perham concerning General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien Minute Men and the execution of Elbert J. Chapman in the March 22, 1887 edition of the Atlanta Constitution:

THE STORY OF OLD YALLER

As Told by an Officer in Command of the Zhooting Jquad. [sic]
    One of the first of the Constitution’s War Stories was an account of the execution of “Yaller Jacket” or “Old Yaller” for desertion.  Below is an account written by Captain A.P. Perham of the Quitman Free Press. Captain Perham commanded the squad that executed Old Yaller. He says:
Chapman was the man’s proper name, but we called him “Old Yaller” on account of the peculiar color of his hair, beard, and complexion. This nickname was given very soon after he enlisted, and he was known by no other, except on the roll of his company. I think he came from the northeastern portion of Berrien County. At any rate he belonged to the “Berrien Minute Men,” the company that General Levi J. Knight carried into service.
During the second year of the war, the Twenty-ninth and Thirtieth Georgia Regiment were ordered from Savannah to Jacksonville to repel the enemy, whom it was thought were trying to effect a landing at that point.  Returning a few weeks later  “Yaller” stepped off the train at the station on the Savannah, Florida, and Western railroad nearest his home — probably Naylor, and went to see his family.
He was reported “absent without leave,” and when he returned to his command at Savannah, he was placed in the guard tent and charges were preferred against him. It was from the guard tent that he deserted and went home the second time.
After staying home a short while he joined a cavalry command and went west.  It is said that he was in several engagements and fought bravely, and this fact was made known to the court martial that tried him.
A few months before the fall of Vicksburg the troops from Savannah were ordered to the west, and soon after reaching Mississippi, a man by the name of Bill Warren who belonged to Company I, twenty-ninth Georgia regiment discovered “Yaller” in a cavalry company and reported the fact to Colonel Young. “Yaller” was arrested and soon after tried by court martial; I think at Canton. There was probably not a day nor night, from the time of his trial until he was executed, that he could not have easily escaped.
During the retreat from Yazoo to Jackson he made great complaint that he could not keep his guard together, and on the retreat from Jackson he procured a cow bell, and it is a fact, that with this he often collected the scattered, retreating and tired men, who should have been taking care of him.
At Morton the army rested somewhat demoralized, discouraged

 [text obscured]

forehead. Life’s pathway has not aways been strewn with flowers for me, nor yet have thorns continually beset me. My experience has probably been similar in a general way to that of most others, but I do not believe that there are many who have passed through what I did on that memorable day. The army understood the situation and knew the evidence and circumstances surrounding the whole case. We were all aware that Chapman had not deserted the “cause” and was simply being shot that discipline might be enforced. His execution could not, under these circumstances,  have the desired effect. It was a military mistake instead of a “military necessity.”
The condemned man stated to the writer that he left the guard tent at Savannah because he thought injustice was being done him, but that thought of deserting to the enemy never entered his mind. Chapman had a wife and several children in Berrien county. Perhaps some of our old war friends, the Knights or the Lastingers can tell us what became of them.
During the sad and solemn march from the camp to the place of execution the condemned man assured the guard and the officer in command the he had nothing but the kindest feelings for us, and appreciated the fact that we were doing our duty. “Old Yaller” was a stranger to fear and met his death and terrible preparations  for his execution in the coolest and most perfectly indifferent manner possible. There was no blanching of the cheek, no trembling of the knees, no excitement of any kind visible about the man. He possessed a certain kind of manhood that enabled him to meet the grim monster without a tremor and apparently without a fear. At the time of Chapman’s execution I was second lieutenant of company F twenty-ninth Georgia regiment, and have given the facts as I remember them.

A. P. Perham

Rice Production in Wiregrass Georgia

19th-century image of four Georgia rice field workers.

19th-century image of four Georgia rice field workers.

Rice production efforts by settlers  and rice plantations in coastal Georgia are well known, but rice was also grown by pioneer settlers of Lowndes, Berrien and other Wiregrass counties.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia:

“Rice, Georgia’s first staple crop, was the most important commercial agricultural commodity in the Low country from the middle of the eighteenth century until the early twentieth century. Rice arrived in America with European and African migrants as part of the so-called Columbian Exchange of plants, animals, and germs. Over time, profits from the production and sale of the cereal formed the basis of many great fortunes in coastal Georgia.”

The cultivation of rice on coastal plantations played a significant role in the introduction of slavery in Georgia, which was forbidden by the state’s original charter.

At least by the mid 1800’s settlers further inland,  in the Old Lowndes County region were growing small amounts of rice locally, along with other farming and agriculture efforts.   The total rice production in Lowndes County for the year ending June 1, 1850 was 66,300 pounds.  With the total state production reaching about 39 million pounds of rice that year, Lowndes county was hardly among the chief producers. Still, the rice crop was important to the local farmers  who had settled in the Rays Mill, Georgia (now Ray City) area.  The Reverend George White in 1855 listed rice, cotton and corn as Lowndes county’s major agricultural crops. The following year, 1856, Berrien County was cut out of Lowndes. One early Berrien county rice grower was Aden Boyd. The Berrien County agricultural and manufacturing records  for 1860 show his farm produced 80 pounds of rice, along with 50 bushels of corn, 10 bushels of oats and 5 bushels of peas and beans.

In 1870, rice production in Berrien County was 125,000 pounds. Henry T. Peeples, brother of Richard A. Peeples,  produced 38,000 pounds of rice on his farm alone. John W. Hagan’s  farm was the second largest producer at 2,320 pounds.  By 1879, Berrien County farmer Wiley Chambless  “gathered 21 bushels of clean, ruff rice from half an acre” and “plan[ned] to plant 50 or 75 acres in rice” for 1880.

Equipment for producing rice was manufactured right here in Georgia. In the 1850’s Nesbet & Levy’s Ocmulgee Foundry and Machine shop in Macon, GA. was manufacturing rice thrashers, among many other agricultural and industrial machines.

In Milltown (now Lakeland, GA.) there was a rice cleaning machine at the Lastinger Mill. Later on, Berrien county residents could take their rice to the Avera mill, built in 1880 near Nashville.   In fact, by 1880 the Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun reported that, “The farmers of Berrien county say that rice pays them better than  cotton.”

1910 – A FEW INDUSTRIAL FACTS ABOUT GEORGIA

Rice – Rice is an important product which can be easily produced in Georgia of very superior quality. The average yield is about 12 barrels per acre and in favorable seasons a second crop of 8 to 10 barrels may be obtained. This product sells for about $3.50 a barrel.

DAN CUPID WINS OUT AFTER FOURTY YEARS

See More Ray City History at http://raycity.pbworks.com/

In addition to providing medical services, Dr. A.L. Johnston on at least one occasion performed a wedding ceremony.

DAN CUPID WINS OUT AFTER FOURTY YEARS

Atlanta Constitution.  July 25, 1913. Pg 3

    Valdosta, Ga., July 24. –(Special.) – a romance of 40 years culminated here last night in the marriage of Mrs. Sleeper of  Buffalo, N.Y. to D.E. Wire of Rays Mill. The bride came from her home in the north by previous appointment to meet Mr. Wire here, and the marriage ceremony was performed by Dr. A.L. Johnstone, at the Residence of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Murray.

    The couple were sweethearts when they were children, together nearly 40 years ago.

Marriage License for D. E. Wire and Mrs. Ella Sleeper, July 23, 1913.

Marriage License for D. E. Wire and Mrs. Ella Sleeper, July 23, 1913.

  Related Posts:

Dr. A. L. Johnston and the 1913 Possum Supper

The February, 1914 issue of the Pharmaceutical Era reports on the “Possum Supper” thrown by the Mashburn Drug Company of Valdosta in December of 1913. Aside from the interesting menu, the affair  was also noteworthy for the presentation of “moving picture films” and “stereopticon views”, and “automobile rides” around the city. One of the attendees was Dr. A. L. Johnston of Valdosta. Dr. Johnston had a Ray City, GA connection and provided services, sometimes unusual, for Ray City residents. More on that in the next post DAN CUPID WINS OUT AFTER FOURTY YEARS.

For Christmas, A Possum Dinner

The Mashburn Drug Company, of Valdosta, Ga, gave their second annual ‘Possum Supper to their customers in December. Quite a number of their guests who reached Valdosta in the early afternoon were given an automobile ride around the city. At 8: 30 p.m. the guests were escorted to the New Valdes Hotel, where a sumptuous repast was spread, consisting of ” ‘possum and taters,” birds, salads, etc.  A. E. Dimmock, a Valdosta druggist, was toastmaster. Among those responding with toasts were Mayor Jno. T. Roberts, of Valdosta; Jno. Dickerson, of Jacksonville, who represents Eli Lilly & Co. in the State of Florida; C. L. Parks, representing H. K. Mulford & Co., Philadelphia, Pa.; Dr. E. P. Quillian, Clyattsville, Ga.; Dr. J. M. Hall, Douglass, Ga.; W. A. Bradley, representing the Cleveland Fruit Juice Co., Cleveland, Ohio; Senator W. L. Converse; Fred Bergstrom, of Bergstrom & Newberry; Dr. A. L. Johnston, and Russell Peeples, of Valdosta, Ga. Woods A. Caperton, sales manager for Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis, Ind., was a specially invited guest and he made the trip to Valdosta to attend this supper. He brought with him about 80 stereopticon views and two reels of moving picture films and immediately after the supper he gave those in attendance a “moving-picture trip” through the plant of Eli Lilly & Co. About 150 or the Mashburn Drug Co.’s customers were present and all expressed themselves as having had a most enjoyable time.

In The Pharmaceutical era, Vol 47. (1914). New York [etc.: D.O. Haynes & Co.

Related Posts:

 

 

Counterfeit Coins in Berrien County

The first bank in Ray’s Mill, GA [Ray City] was not established until 1909. In the earliest days of Berrien County there were no local financial establishments. The nearest bank was 120 miles away at Saint Mary’s, GA, in Camden County. It had a capital of $30,000.00. In the 1840s the cashier was George Washington Winter and the bank’s president was John.G. Winter (see THE LETTERS OF A GEORGIA UNIONIST: JOHN G. WINTER AND SECESSION).

John G. Winters, a prominent citizen of Columbus GA, was president of the Bank of St. Mary's in the 1840s.

John G. Winter was a prominent citizen of Columbus, GA who purchased controlling interest of the Bank of St. Mary’s in 1841. In 1844, he was elected mayor of Columbus. During the Civil War he remained a Unionist.

Due to the remoteness, conducting commerce from the region of present day Berrien county was daunting.  Early Berrien settlers traded at Centerville, GA  near St. Marys and its trading port.  Although the Bank of St. Mary’s issued currency as early as 1840, the pioneer farmers and stockmen of Berrien [then Lowndes county] were not wont to exchange their products for paper money.

1840 ten dollar note, Bank of St. Mary's

1840 ten dollar note, Bank of St. Mary’s.  John G. Winter, President.

The oldtimers may have had reason not to trust paper bank notes, as this clipping from the April 28, 1852 New York Daily Times indicated:

April 28, 1852  New York Daily Times reports the Bank of St. Mary's is broke.

April 28, 1852 New York Daily Times reports the Bank of St. Mary’s is broke.

But large payments received in gold or silver coin could be difficult to carry. According to a Berrien County Centennial article written in 1956,  “It was often transported in ‘saddlebags,’ a kind of leather wallet swung across the saddle, containing a spacious wallet on each side. The cattle raisers of this territory often brought home as much as a half bushel of specie in this manner, obtained from the sale of beef steers driven to Savannah or Jacksonville and sold.”

coronet-quarter-eagle-gold

Berrien County, GA pioneers knew that even commerce transacted in gold coin did not always protect the seller.

The following item appeared in the Atlanta Constitution Tuesday, October 31, 1882.

From the Berrien County News.
 Counterfeit two dollar and a half gold pieces are in circulation in this vicinity. They are not hard to detect. A half a day’s carrying them in the pocket rubs off the (?) gold and exposes to view a white looking metal.”

In 1910 counterfeiters were caught operating in Berrien, Coffee, and Appling counties.

Atlanta Constitution
February 25, 1910

PHONEY GOLD COINS CAUSE TWO ARRESTS

Dr. J. Dedge of Coffee County is Held to Await Trial for Counterfeiting

    Valdosta, Ga. Feb 24 – Dr. J.R. Dedge, a dentist at Nicholls, Coffee county, Ga. and his brother. E. E. Dedge of Milltown, Berrien county, were arrested by United States secret service men and  brought to Valdosta to-day, charged with being implicated in the disposal of counterfeiting $10 gold pieces.
    The former was given a perliminary hearing before United States Commissioner Roy E. Powell and bound over under a bond of $4,000. The warrant against the latter was dismissed.
    Dr. J. R. Dedge was arrested by Special Treasury Agent J. M. Wright and Postoffice Inspector Brittain, at the home of his father in Appling county at a late hour last night, while E. E. Dedge was taken into custody by Deputy Marshals J. M. Sutton and D. H. Riley at Milltown.
    When the former was arrested the officers said a small box containing ten spurious  $10 gold pieces was found in his overcoat pocket and these coins were exhibited as evidence against the accused at the hearing in the afternoon. Their workmanship is pronounced by the officers as about the best they saw. The coins apparently are made of a white metal plated with gold and could be readily passed as genuine on a person who happened not to notice them carefully. Their greatest defect is their light weight, two of them weighing but little more than our genuine coin weighs.
    The case against D. Dedge was worked up by Inspector Brittain. On the stand he stated that the box of coins, which he has received through the mails addressed to the  accused at Douglas, Ga. had been ordered forwarded to Nicholls. The inspector’s attention was called to it by the post-master and his assistants, whose suspicions had been aroused in some manner. The inspector opened the box and carried it to the deputy collector’s office at Macon, where it was exhibited to Collector Storrs.

The Dedge brothers were from a family of dentists who figured prominently Wiregrass history.  They were involved in a number of currency schemes or other frauds, not the least of which was the Wild Man of the Wiregrass.

Related Posts:

Ray’s Mill has Arrived

In March, 1909, Eugene Ray filed a newspaper article with the date line ” Rays Mill, Ga., March 9. — (Special)”.

“To colonies of people, south Georgia offers special inducements. While it is true that there are in every county and in almost every district small tracts of land for sale, and while it is true that there are in every town men, enterprising and patriotic, who will divide up their real estate holdings to suit the purchaser, yet there are tracts of thousands of acres owned by the wealthy sawmill man, who, having cut the timber off his land, desires no to dispose of it to the farmer and dispose of it in a body. Selling it that way, he would sell it cheaper. I mention these facts in answer to inquiries received by mail.”

“But there is land suitable for every class…”

“Rays Mill, a very new town on the Georgia and Florida Railroad, ten miles south of Nashville, is in this section, and is proud of its location. Less than six months ago there was no town and no sign of it. Today there are at least a half a dozen new store houses completed or being built, and probably twenty-five new residence buildings completed or planned, to say nothing of a half a hundred new cabins for the colored laborer. A two story hotel building is near completion and will soon be occupied. M.E Studstill has a new sawmill here and J.H. Crenshaw has another. Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here. A.L. Bridges is another young merchant who will soon move his store to town. Louis Bullard is completing a two story house. And so on — all in five months. The truth is, Rays Mill, the town, has just about ‘arrived,’ or will soon.”

 

Related Posts:

 

William F. Luckie ~ Luckie Lumber Mill

A business which contributed much to the new town of Ray City, GA was the Luckie Lumber Company.  It was a huge operation run by William F. Luckie and located about 1 mile north of town on the Georgia & Florida rail line.

Luckie sold the sawmill operation to the Clements Brothers some time around 1911.

Mr. Luckie was on the social scene in Berrien county:

Atlanta  Constitution, Feb 8, 1914, pg 8 M

Nashville (news items)

Rays Mill was well represented at the carnival last week. Misses Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. Luckie,  George Norton, J. I.  and J. S. Clements and C.B . Shaw were among the visitors.

Related Posts:

Mayor Lyman F. Giddens Brings Electric Plant to Ray City ~ 1922

Ray City Light Plant - September 18, 1923

Ray City Light Plant – September 18, 1923

On July 21, 1922 the Atlanta Journal Constitution;

Ray City to Install Electric Light Plant

Milltown, Ga., July 21. –(Special.)  Ray City is soon to have electric lights and waterworks.

Mayor L. F. Giddens has closed the contract with McGraw & Co., of Thomasville, to put in the plant. All material is bought and expected any day. Work has begun on wiring the homes, and this part of the work will be completed by August 1.

The contract also has been let for boring a well near the dam, and the city will be piped as soon as possible, to give the people both electric lights and waterworks. They will own their own hydro-electric plant.

Bonds have been sold to take care of the expense. 

Related Posts

« Older entries Newer entries »