Hydrophobia in Berrien County

Rabies or hydrophobia was always a risk in the sparsely populated wiregrass counties. The Columbus Daily Enquirer-Sun reported on May 17, 1882, page 3:

Berrien County News: The little son of widow Henry Corbitt, was bitten last Sunday by a dog belonging to Ira Sutton.  The night following he suffered a great pain, which has continued, and at this writing he has every symptom of hydrophobia. Those who have seen him say that there is no hope of his recovery.

By 1922 the rabies situation in Georgia was worse than ever.

Boston medical and surgical journal, Volume 186, Pg 690
Massachusetts Medical Society, New England Surgical Society

In the Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, the statement is made that Georgia is the focus for rabies in the entire United States, for during 1921 there were 454 proved cases of hydrophobia in dogs in that State, and over twenty-one hundred persons were forced to take the Pasteur treatment on account of being bitten by rabid dogs. There were nine deaths. Since 1909 more than fifteen thousand people have been given this treatment.

Reference is made to the extinction of rabies in Australia, due to effective laws.

The safe course for other states is to establish strict quarantine against dogs from Georgia.

See more about Berrien County and Ray City, GA history at http://raycity.pbworks.com/

Ray City Boys in the CCC

The New Georgia Encyclopedia describes the start of the CCC in Georgia…

Among  the numerous New Deal programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) is remembered as one of the most popular and effective. Established on March 31, 1933, the corps’s objective was to recruit unemployed young men (and later, out-of-work veterans) for forestry, erosion control, flood prevention, and parks development. The president’s ambitious goal was to enroll a quarter of a million men by July 1, 1933.

Despite opposition from Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge, who argued that federal New Deal programs were an intrusion into state government affairs, the CCC was overwhelmingly popular  in Georgia.  Before the corps’ termination on July 1, 1942, more than 78,000 men were employed in 127 camps (approximately 30-35 camps operated at a time) across the state.

Participants in the CCC included men from Ray City,  Georgia who went to work at CCC Camp Company 1413 in Homerville.  Clayborn L. Kelly  of Ray City was an assistant leader for the camp.   H.E. Grissett  and J.W. McConnell were among the two hundred men who lived and worked at the camp.

Photographs of CCC Company 1413, Homerville, GA provided by Linda Angell.

On June 2, 1933, Company 1413 came into existence.  Prior to or sometime during the month of May of that year, a group of men connected with the Army, together with others who were connected with the Forestry branch, arrived in Homerville to ascertain whether or not a Civilian Conservation Corps (C.C.C.) campsite should be located there.  Their verdict proved to be in the affirmative, so on May 25, Captain Patten, an officer of the Army arrived at Homerville, with fourteen members of the C.C.C. from Jacksonville, Florida, and erected a tent on the present campsite.  On June 2, two hundred enrollees under the command of Captain Earle A. Johnson, 29th Infantry, arrived at the location and by sundown all tents were up and the cots installed, and Company 1413 was off to a “flying start.”

In 1940, Ray City men working in the CCC included Daniel J. Jeffords, and Joseph S. Clements was Foreman at the CCC Camp.

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Wed under the Great Comet of 1882

William Jackson “Jack” Boyette and Charlotte “Lottie” Cook

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson  Boyette was born 11 Oct 1862 and lived his life in the Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia vicinity. He was a son of William Hill Boyette and Jemima Taylor, pioneer settlers of the Ray City, GA area.

He married Charlotte Cook on August 27, 1882. She was a daughter of Lucretia Sirmans and John  Jasper Cook.  J.J. Cook was a farmer of the Watson Grade community just northeast of Rays Mill.  He would later be among those who opposed the creation of Lanier County.  Her brother, Aaron Cook,  fought in the Spanish American War.

One wonders if the newlyweds saw it as an auspicious sign that just a few days later there appeared in the sky the Great Comet of 1882.  The comet was soon visible even in the daytime sky.

 The Comet in Georgia
From the Berrien County News
October 11, 1882

It exceeds in brilliancy the great comet which made its appearance in the days of Millerism. Who knows but what its luminous tail will swoop down upon the earth, as it seems to be rapidly approaching this terrestrial ball.

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See more about the history of Ray City, GA at http://raycity.pbworks.com/

Bailiff William Knight Guilty in Murder of John Studstill

Conclusion of 1912 murder trial still leaves family connections of John Studstill in doubt.


Nashville, Ga. March 29–(Special.) Bailiff  William Knight, who was convicted in superior court of having killed John Studstill, was sentenced to three years in the penitentiary by Judge Thomas.

Related Posts:

Who was John Studstill?


Fugitive John Studstill’s Death Ruled Murder

In the continuing saga over the death of  fugitive from justice John Studstill,  his killer is charged with murder.

The Atlanta Constitution, 20 Mar 1913, Pg 7


   Nashville, Ga., March 19 –(Special.) Bailiff William Knight, who shot John Studstill to death, was indicted yesterday for first degree murder and is now in jail. Studstill was trying to escape when shot by Knight, who had a warrant for Studstill’s arrest.
   The shooting was widely discussed.   
   Knight will probably be tried next week.

More on the 1912 Death of John Studstill

Following up from yesterday’s post, the family relations of John Studstill remain elusive, but the circumstances of his death caused at stir that made the state news.

The Atlanta Constitution, 6 Dec 1912

   Nashville, Ga., December 5. –(Special.) — William Knight, the bailiff who shot and killed John Studstill, at a perliminary hearing, was bound over to the superior court for voluntary manslaughter.
   Lester Knight, charged with being accessory to the crime, was acquitted.

Who was John Studstill?

This blog has previously posted on a number of the Studstill family connection.

A recently reviewed article in the 3 Dec 1912 Atlanta Constitution recounts the death of one John Studstill.  But who was this man? who were his relatives? Perhaps a reader can tell…


Nashville, Ga., December 2 –(Special.) — John Studstill was shot and killed at Robinson’s mill, 7 miles south of this city, by Bailiff  William Knight. Studstill was charged with jumping a board bill, and when Knight attempted to arrest him he (Studstill) fled. Knight chased him for some distance and, after calling for Studstill to halt, fired.  Knight claims that he shot to frighten the fleeing man, but not to harm him. The dead man was brought here in Sheriff Avera’s auto. Knight is at liberty here.

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Organization and Command of the Berrien Minute Men

The following passages from L.E. Lastinger give his brief accounting of the roles of two Captains named Knight in the organization and leadership of the Berrien County Minute Men. L. E. Lastinger was the last surviving member of Company K,  Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Regiment.

Levi J. Knight who was one of our leading citizens prominent in politics and a leader of the old Whig party, called for one hundred Volunteers to go with him to the front. Politics were adjourned and Mr. Knight was placed as Captain of one hundred of the best citizens of the County without a dissenting voice.

These men were lined up on the public square in Nashville, Georgia and the Captain made a statement, that if there was any member there who had changed his mind, or did not care to go with him, to step out. One member stepped out , but John Isom stepped into his place. These men were camped at different parts of the county, bought their uniforms or had them made and made every preparation necessary to go to the war.

“Captain Knight became very impatient that he could get no orders to go with his command to the front. However, in the latter part of July, 1861, he carried his Company to Savannah…”  “…under the name of the ‘Berrien County Minute Men.'”

“They were there mustered into the service and went from Savannah to Brunswick, from Brunswick to Blackbeard Island, from Blackbeard Island to Sapelo Island.”

“During this time recruiting officers had been sent back home from Captain Knight’s Company, and they gathered about eighty additional recruits who left for the front in the latter part of September and arrived at Savannah and went from there to Sapelo Island where they met the first Company above mentioned.  These eighty recruits proceeded to organize another company …”

“The first company was Company ‘G’ and the second company was company ‘K’, the first company being commanded by Captain Levi J. Knight, Sr. and the second company by John C. Lamb.” 

“Of course, it is known that this company [Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company] was not known as Company ‘G’ when it first went off, but got this letter when the Company was placed in the 29th Regiment.”

In his description of Company “G” of the 29th Georgia Regiment, L.E. Lastinger wrote, “The following will show the muster roll as it was when it first left the County, Aug 1 1861 – Both officers and privates,” including the two men he referred to as “Levi J. Knight, Sr.” and “Levi J. Knight, Jr.”

Levi J. Knight, Capt. — “He  was promoted to Maj. in the organization of the 29th G. Regt.  He resigned soon thereafter on account of his age and died about the close of the war.”

Levi J. Knight, Jr.,  4th Sergt. –Was made Capt. of Co. “G” and served through the war, was badly wounded but recovered and returned to his post of duty and was a prisoner of war at the surrender on Johnson’s Island. Captured at Nashville Tenn., 16th of Dec. 1864.

The relationship between the two men was that of uncle and nephew.  Levi J. Knight, the nephew, born 1833 in Lowndes County, GA was a son of Sarah and John Knight, who was a brother of Captain L. J. Knight.

Levi J. Knight (b. 1833) joined the Berrien Minutemen, the company of men being raised by his uncle Levi J. Knight (b. 180?).  At first he served as 4th Sergeant of Company C, 29th Regiment. He was elected 1st Lieutenant October 22, 1861, and Captain on May 7, 1862 when the unit was reorganized as Co. G.  He was shot through the right lung at Atlanta, Ga. July 22, 1864.  He survived the injury and was captured with his unit near Nashville, Tenn.  on December 16, 1864.  He was released at Johnson’s Island, Ohio on June 16, 1865.

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Berrien County’s Oldest Resident Dies at Ray City

The August 7, 1930 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported the following:

 Georgia Negro, 106, Dies in Ray City

Ray City, Ga., Aug 6 – “Uncle” Dick McGowan, a negro man believed to be Berrien county’s oldest resident died near here. He was 106 years of age.

McGowan was known to have been a slave, owned by the late Hardy Sirmons, of Ray City.  Hardy Sirmons died several years ago at an advanced age, and it was known that McGowan was at least 35 years old when Mr. Sirmons was born, giving a very authentic idea of the validity of the claim that the negro was 106 years of age at the time of his death.  McGowan had lived in the Ray City section of Berrien County all of his life and was known to all of the older residents of that section.

For a number of years McGowan was given a home and shelter at the home of Molly Hall, a negress who is known throughout this section of south Georgia as claiming to have supernatural powers as a “seeress.” The home of the Hall woman is a mecca to which literally thousands of white people journey every year in efforts to fathom mysteries of the past. Many wonderful stories are in circulation regarding the accuracy with which the woman draws away the mysterious veil for her clients.

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Benjamin Butterworth and the Columbian Exposition

Note: the text of Lacy Lastinger on the confederate soldiers of Berrien County is temporarily unavailable. The Ray CIty History Blog will return to that topic at a later date.

Today’s post, while slightly off topic, was a serrendipitous discovery while researching the history of fraternal benefit organizations in Ray City, GA.  Interviews with Ray City residents had indicated that in the 1930s Woodmen of the World maintained a home for the elderly at Thomasville, GA.

The Obituary of Benjamin Butterworth was briefly noted in The 1899  Detroit Free Press Annual Year Book: Weather Forecasts and Cyclopedia of Facts for the Office, Home, and Farm. Vol. 4, No. 1, January, 1899.

Died January 16, 1898.

At Thomasville, Ga., Benjamin Butterworth, U. S. Commissioner of Patents, widely known also for his efficiency in achieving the success of the World’s Fair enterprise (1893).

The magazine Timely Topics: Weekly nonpartisan news, history, science, politics, geography, and literature  (Vol. II. No. 20. Jan 21, 1898, Lansing, MI) published the more informative obit.

Benjamin Butterworth Dead.

Benj. Butterworth, the commissioner of patents, who has been ill for some time from a severe attack of pneumonia, died at Thomasville, Georgia, where he had gone for his health.

Mr. Butterworth has been one of Ohio’s big four politically and is the first to die. The quartet was McKinley, Fornker. Charlie Foster and Butterworth.

Benjamin Butterworth was born in Warren county, Ohio, Oct. 22, 1822. His

father was a Virginia planter, who, notwithstanding his property Interests, was so devoted to the cause of universal liberty that he freed his slaves and removed with his family to Ohio. In that state he became associated with Levi Coffin in the “underground railroad” and assisted fugitive slaves until the close of the war.

Benjamin Butterworth was educated at Ohio University, Athens, O., studied law in Cincinnati and was admitted to practice in that city in 1861. In 1870 he became United States district attorney, in 1873-4 was a member of the state senate, and in 1878 was returned to congress, being re-elected at the expiration of his term.

In 1883 President Arthur appointed him a commissioner in examination of a part of the Northern Pacific railway, and in the same year he was retained by the government to prosecute the South Carolina election cases. In 1883 he was appointed commissioner of patents, to succeed E. M. Marble. In the following year he was again returned to congress. During the term of his first service in congress Mr. Butterworth was author of the compulsory army retirement act.

He was made secretary of the World’s Fair project early In the inception of that great enterprise at Chicago during the early ’90s and worked along in that capacity with honor to himself and profit to the company until Its close.



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