Ray City Soda Jerk

When Ray City, GA became incorporated in 1909, among the earliest businesses to be established was the drug store. In those days,  the soda fountain was an essential element of the drugstore trade.  The  National Druggist trade magazine, in 1911, published The Practical Soda Fountain Guide  in which they advised drug store owners, “you have a soda fountain, because every druggist is supposed to have a soda fountain.”

In their heyday, soda fountains flourished in pharmacies, ice cream parlors, candy stores, dime stores, department stores, milk bars and train stations. They served an important function as a public space where neighbors could socialize and exchange community news. In the early 20th century, many fountains expanded their menus and became lunch counters, serving light meals as well as ice cream sodas, egg creams, sundaes, and such. Soda fountains reached their height in the 1940s and 1950s. With the coming of the Car Culture and the rise of suburbia, they began to decline. Drive-in restaurants and roadside ice cream outlets, such as Dairy Queen, competed for customers. North American retail stores switched to self-service soda vending machines selling pre-packaged soft drinks in cans, and the labor-intensive soda fountain didn’t fit into the new sales scheme. Today only a sprinkling of vintage soda fountains survive.

The  1910 census of Ray City  shows seventeen year-old Lutie Fender working as a “soda fountain salesman” – a soda jerk. Lutie was the son of Ray City hotelier, Wilson W. Fender, and nephew of Lon Fender, turpentine operator and builder of the Patterson Hotel in Valdosta, GA.

The Fender Hotel was was one of the historic businesses of Ray City. It was located in a wooden building on the northeast corner of Main and Paralleled Street in Ray City, just across the track from the train depot of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  The hotel was operated by Mrs. Lena Fender. This building was destroyed by fire in 1913 or 1914.

City Drug Co., Ray City, Georgia circa 1912. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society, http://berriencounty.smugmug.com

The soda fountain became a long-time fixture in Ray City,  as in small towns everywhere.   By 1916,  C.O. Terry was in business as a retail druggist in Rays Mill, GA (nka Ray City).  It may be that he had assumed operation of the City Drug Co. at Ray’s Mill by that time.  He later operated Terry’s Drug Store in Quitman, Ga., which became known locally for its soda fountain, among other things.  In his  book, My Whole Life and 48 Years of Small Town Family Medical Practice, Paul Tanner Jr., MD describes the work of a typical soda jerk, working in Terry’s Drug Store around 1940:

 “I went to work at… Terry’s Drug Store, down the street. I was a full fledged Soda Jerk, working in afternoons after school, and Saturdays. They had sandwiches made from ham boiled in the back of the store, boiled peanuts, boiled in the back, pimento cheese mixed in the back, with lettuce and tomato. I went to work after school each day and left after closing at 9 PM. All the soda fountain was my specialty, too. On Saturday I worked from 10 am until closing at 11 PM. I was paid $2.50 a week.  I continued working at Terry’s Drug Store off and on until I graduated from high school.”  – Paul J. Tanner, M.D.

 Related Post:

Advertisements

William J. Lamb ~ Confederate Veteran

A recently encountered photograph, taken January 1, 1908, depicts a gathering of Confederate veterans at Hahira, GA. Among them was William Joseph Lamb, who long resided in Georgia Militia District 1144, the Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City) District, Berrien County, GA.

Confederate Veterans, Hahira, Georgia, January 1, 1908  (1)  W. A. Ram, Dec 31, 1845 (2) J. W. Rouse, Aug 12, 1843  (3) H. C. Lang, July 13, 1839  (4) E. J. Williams, Oct 21, 1842  (5) J. A. Mobley, June 23, 1839  (6) M. M. Howard, Dec 19, 1848  (7) J. H. Tillman, 1842  (8)  Hardy Christian, Aug 31, 1838  (9) Jno L. Right, Dec 20, 1844  (10)  J. P. Powers, 1840  (11) M. C. Futch, Aug 20, 1836  (12)  C. H. Shaw, June 8, 1842  (13)  S. B. Dampier, Nov 18, 1835  (14)  T. A. Judge, Nov 22, 1843  (15)  J. W. Taylor, Oct 25, 1833  (16)  B. J. Sirmans, Feb 24, 1847  (17)  S. W. Register, Aug 5, 1839  (18)  A. Cowart, Dec 29, 1843  (19) J. T. Courson, Mar 22, 1848  (20)  J. M. Patterson, May 27, 1840 (21) Elbert Mathis, Oct 4, 1836  (22)   M. A. Tolar, Dec 8, 1832  (23)  J. H. King, Nov 3, 1839  (24)  G. W. Robinson, May 1, 1833  (25)  W. M. Watson, 1840  (26)  Jessie Moore, June 12, 1839   (27)  N. J. Money, Mar 28, 1845  (28)  A. Dixon, May 10, 1847  (29)  W. J. Lamb, Apr 20, 1837  (30)  Troy Thomas, Jan 13, 1833   (31)  W. W. Joyce, May 3, 1832   (32)  W. H. Green, Apr 13, 1834  (33)  W. H. Dent, Oct 12, 1844  (34)  Jas. W. Parish, Mar 2, 1847  (35) to get from photo owner  (36)  ditto (37)  ditto   (38)  Blu Sirmans, Nov 15, 1839   (39)  J. A. Lawson, July 10, 1836  (40)  J. J. Parrish, Sept 11, 1834  (41)  R. W. Roan, June 18, 1846  (42)  A. T. Tadlock, March 27, 1835  (43)  W. R. Starling, May 3, 1831  (44)  W. M. Lawson, Sept 7, 1834  (45)  W. E. Stephens, Dec 15, 1849  (46)  G. W. Powell, March 3, 1847  (47)  J. F. Barfield, July 7, 1833  (48)  W. W. Rutherford, Oct 18, 1825  (49)  J. J. Hutchinson, Oct 1, 1843  (50)  G. C. Hodges, Oct 13, 1846  (51) T. E. Swilley, Sept 22, 1843  (52)  J. I. Martin, Spt 21, 1844  (53)  E. J. Shanks, March 3, 1840  (54)  H. L. Smith, Dec 28, 1841  (55)  G. W. Stephens, Jan 8, 1833   (56)  T. A. Roberts, July 6, 1844  (57)  T. L. Wiseman, June 4, 1838  (58)  W. W. Wilkderson, June 10, 1830  (59)  H. B. Lawson, Aug 28, 1844  (60)

Confederate Veterans, Hahira, Georgia, January 1, 1908 (1) W. A. Ram, Dec 31, 1845 (2) J. W. Rouse, Aug 12, 1843 (3) H. C. Lang, July 13, 1839 (4) E. J. Williams, Oct 21, 1842 (5) J. A. Mobley, June 23, 1839 (6) M. M. Howard, Dec 19, 1848 (7) J. H. Tillman, 1842 (8) Hardy Christian, Aug 31, 1838 (9) Jno L. Right, Dec 20, 1844 (10) J. P. Powers, 1840 (11) M. C. Futch, Aug 20, 1836 (12) C. H. Shaw, June 8, 1842 (13) S. B. Dampier, Nov 18, 1835 (14) T. A. Judge, Nov 22, 1843 (15) J. W. Taylor, Oct 25, 1833 (16) B. J. Sirmans, Feb 24, 1847 (17) S. W. Register, Aug 5, 1839 (18) A. Cowart, Dec 29, 1843 (19) J. T. Courson, Mar 22, 1848 (20) J. M. Patterson, May 27, 1840 (21) Elbert Mathis, Oct 4, 1836 (22) M. A. Tolar, Dec 8, 1832 (23) J. H. King, Nov 3, 1839 (24) G. W. Robinson, May 1, 1833 (25) W. M. Watson, 1840 (26) Jessie Moore, June 12, 1839 (27) N. J. Money, Mar 28, 1845 (28) A. Dixon, May 10, 1847 (29) W. J. Lamb, Apr 20, 1837 (30) Troy Thomas, Jan 13, 1833 (31) W. W. Joyce, May 3, 1832 (32) W. H. Green, Apr 13, 1834 (33) W. H. Dent, Oct 12, 1844 (34) Jas. W. Parish, Mar 2, 1847 (35) to get from photo owner (36) ditto (37) ditto (38) Blu Sirmans, Nov 15, 1839 (39) J. A. Lawson, July 10, 1836 (40) J. J. Parrish, Sept 11, 1834 (41) R. W. Roan, June 18, 1846 (42) A. T. Tadlock, March 27, 1835 (43) W. R. Starling, May 3, 1831 (44) W. M. Lawson, Sept 7, 1834 (45) W. E. Stephens, Dec 15, 1849 (46) G. W. Powell, March 3, 1847 (47) J. F. Barfield, July 7, 1833 (48) W. W. Rutherford, Oct 18, 1825 (49) J. J. Hutchinson, Oct 1, 1843 (50) G. C. Hodges, Oct 13, 1846 (51) T. E. Swilley, Sept 22, 1843 (52) J. I. Martin, Spt 21, 1844 (53) E. J. Shanks, March 3, 1840 (54) H. L. Smith, Dec 28, 1841 (55) G. W. Stephens, Jan 8, 1833 (56) T. A. Roberts, July 6, 1844 (57) T. L. Wiseman, June 4, 1838 (58) W. W. Wilkderson, June 10, 1830 (59) H. B. Lawson, Aug 28, 1844 (60)

William J Lamb joined General Levi J. Knight’s Berrien County Minutemen,” Company C , Georgia 29th Infantry Regiment in Nashville, GA on August 1, 1861. On the 16th of May, 1862 he was appointed 3rd Sergeant of Company E, Georgia 54th Infantry Regiment. In September 1864 he was shot in the leg. He was sent to a hospital, then furloughed home. Later, Dr. H. M. Talley and Dr. M.Y. Allen, who examined William for his confederate veterans pension application, described the injury, “a gunshot wound just below the right knee, the leg was fractured and gangrene set in.” While William was recuperating at home the war ended.

1908 Photo Detail - William Joseph Lamb (1837-1908) ~ Confederate Veteran

1908 Photo Detail – William Joseph Lamb (1837-1908) ~ Confederate Veteran

Before the Civil War, William J. Lamb was one of the wealthiest men in Berrien County, with a total estate of $17,880 in the Census of 1860. In 2009 dollars that would have been about $58 million. But by 1870, the relative worth of his estate had declined by 97 percent.  By 1872, the Berrien County tax digest shows that William J. Lamb owned no land. He had $20 cash on hand and other personal property valued at $304 dollars. He employed one hand, a freedman named Morris Wilkins. By 1900, completely penniless and unable to support himself, William J. Lamb applied for and eventually received an Indigent Confederate Veteran’s Pension from the State of Georgia.

William J. Lamb passed away on June 13, 1908 just six months after the group photo above was taken. He was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA. (see Obituary of William J. Lamb ~ died June 13, 1908)

William Joseph Lamb (1837 – 1908). Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Related posts:

Frank Gallagher ~ Early 1900s Irish Optician of Ray’s Mill, GA

For more about the Gallagher family, and the history of Ray City, GA  see http://www.raycity.pbworks.com

Frank Gallagher was born June 24, 1867 in Northern Ireland.  About 1882, at age 16 he immigrated to the United States, and by the 1890s had made his way to the south Georgia town of Ray’s Mill, GA (nka Ray City).

On March 26, 1899, he married Clara  Sirmans, daughter of Hardeman Sirmans and Elizabeth Knight.  She was born on April 25, 1868 in Berrien County, Georgia.

The Gallaghers made their home just a short distance to the east of Ray’s Mill.

Frank Gallagher Home, circa 1907, located just north of Ray City, GA. Left to right, Michael Gallagher, Clara Knight Sirmans Gallagher holding Ann Gallagher, Elizabeth Gallagher, and Frank Gallagher. Image courtesy of http://berriencounty.smugmug.com/

According to later census records, Frank Gallagher was educated with three years of high school. He was occupied most of his life in farming, but in the 1900 census of Ray’s Mill, GA he gave his occupation as “Optician.”

Did Frank Gallagher set himself up as an Optician with a Sears catalog?  Optometry was an unregulated business at that time. Anyone could purchase a mail order “Opticians’ Outfit’ and instantly become an optician. Advertisements of the time boasted, “no previous experience required,” and promised large profits.   The complete kit with instructional manual  sold for under $30.

1902 Advertisement for “Opticians’ Outfit,” Sears, Roebuck & Co.

By 1910, Frank Gallagher’s optometry career was over,  well before the state of  Georgia officially regulated the practice in 1916.

Clara Sirmans Gallagher died March 27, 1928. She was buried in Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, Georgia.

Grave of Clara Sirmans Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of Clara Sirmans Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

A tender mother and a faithful friend
Faithful to her trust even unto death

Children of Clara Sirmans and Frank Gallagher:

  1. Michael Gallagher 1900 – 1985, married December 26, 1936 to Niza T. Martin, Lowndes County, GA
  2. Ann Gallagher 1902 – 1995
  3. Elizabeth Gallagher 1906 – 1989

The census of 1940 shows 72-year-old Frank Gallagher living in the household of his widowed daughter, Ann Gallagher, and her children.  Also in the Gallagher household was lodger John Starling. Their neighbors were Elzie and Elizabeth Miller, and William Ernest Gaskins.

Frank Gallagher died April 12, 1846 and was also buried at Empire.

 

Grave of Frank Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of Frank Gallagher, Empire Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Related Posts:

Home of Hardeman Sirmans

The Berrien County Historical Society recently published this photo, circa 1910, of the home of Hardeman Sirmans, subject of earlier posts.  The Sirmans home was located just north of Ray City, GA.  Elizabeth “Betsy” Knight Sirmans is seated at center. Hardeman Sirmans died in this home in 1896 (see Hardeman Sirmans Obituary).  Visit Berrien County Historical Society to view larger image.

For more on Hardeman and Elizabeth Sirmans, see the Ray City History website.

Home place of Hardeman and Betsy Sirmans, circa 1910.

Related Posts:

Claudie Royal ~ 1920s Skidderman at Ray City, GA

James Claudie Royal (1893 – 1972)

Claudie Royal was born May 7, 1893, at Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was a son of William Frank Royal and Mary Jones.  His mother died when Claudie was about one year old.  When Claudie was about 4 years old, his father married Arletta Ganos and moved the family to Clinch County.

In 1920,  Claudie Royal and his wife, Thelma, were living in Ray City, GA in the home of his father-in-law, Bill Cole.  They all lived in a house on Jones Street.  The Cole  household at that time  included  William M. “Bill” Cole, his wife  Hattie, and minor children, Clarence, Leroy, Clyde, and Irene.

Claudie Royal and Bill Cole were  sawmill employees. There were several smaller sawmill operators in the area but from about 1909 to 1923 the big sawmill at Ray City, operated under a succession of owners, was the largest employer in the area. In 1920 it was the Clements Lumber Company.

Claudie worked as a “skidderman,”  while Bill Cole was a wheelwright.

As a wheelwright,  Bill Cole worked to build and repair the wheels used on horse- or mule-drawn wagons and carts used in the sawmill operation. The wheel hubs, spokes, and rims were all constructed out of carefully crafted wooden pieces.  The wheel assembly was banded with an iron “tire” that was custom made by a blacksmith.

Working as a skidderman, Claudie Royal drove a team of horses or mules, using a skidder to transport logs.  The skidder dragged logs from where they were cut  the short distance to the tracks of the railway tram, where they were loaded and hauled to the sawmill.   According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 1918 publications, in Georgia a skidderman worked a 60 hour workweek, for a wage of 22.5 cents an hour, or $13.50 per week. The workweek was six 10-hour days.

Skiddermen used two wheel carts, like the Perry Cart, to drag felled logs to the tracks of a railroad tram for loading and hauling to the sawmill. This cart has wooden wheels with steel "tires" 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet in diameter. Construction and maintenance of wheels such as these would have been the work of a wheelwright.

Skiddermen used two wheel carts, like the Perry Cart, to drag felled logs to the tracks of a railroad tram for loading and hauling to the sawmill. This cart has wooden wheels with steel “tires” 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 feet in diameter. Construction and maintenance of wheels such as these would have been the work of a wheelwright.

Log Carts. — In all types of carts the logs are swung beneath the wheels with the rear ends dragging on the ground. The height of wheels ranges from 5 to 10 feet with a corresponding variation in gauge.

A cart used in the Coastal Plain region has an arched axle and wheels 4 1/2 or 5 1/2 feet high. The hounds of the cart are fastened on either side of the tongue by a heavy bolt. A bunk rests on the top of the axel and carries two upright guides between which the tongue fits. The latter is held in place by a spring latch. When the cart is to be loaded it is driven up to one end of a log, then backed until the axle is directly over that part of the log to which the chains or grapples are to be attached. The latch on the guides is then released, the team is backed for a step or two and the hounds are forced into a position nearly vertical, which turns the bunk through a quarter circle and brings it near enough to the ground to permit the grapples or chains to be attached. The elevation of the log is accomplished by driving the team forward, which brings the hounds and tongue to a horizontal position.

– Bryant, R. C. (1923). Logging: The principles & general methods of operation in the United States. S.l.: s.n..

Sliptongue skidder working in the south Georgia pine forest.

Sliptongue skidder working in the south Georgia pine forest.

Hauling logs by mules. Ocilla, GA.

Hauling logs by mules. Ocilla, GA.

James Claudie Royal died  in February, 1972.  He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of James Claudie Royal and Thelma Cole Royal, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of James Claudie Royal and Thelma Cole Royal, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Related Posts:

Andrew Morris ~ Shingle Mill Machinist

Ray City People
Andrew Morris

In 1910, Andrew Morris, his wife and children were living in Ray City, Ga in a rented house on Jones Street.  Andrew and Louvena Morris had been married 11 years. He could  read and write, she couldn’t.  Their neighbors were Ray City People: Register, Robert C  and William Cole.

Andrew worked as a machinist at a shingle mill.  Wood shingles were the common material for roof construction at the time, and most houses in Ray City probably had wood roofs.  Cypress was the preferred local material, and in 1909 the price of cypress shingles in Georgia averaged about $4.00 per thousand, while pine shingles sold for half that amount. A cypress shingle could last for up to 18 years.[1] 

In examining the attic of the circa 1903 house at 507 Jones Street, Ray City, GA many old cypress shingles were found. The rafter and stringer construction of the roof framing were clearly spaced to receive the wooden shingles. Old photographs and family history indicate that the wood shingle roof was replaced with a tin roof sometime before 1950.

 Andrew Morris may have worked on a steam powered shingle machine such as the one owned by the Georgia Agrirama Museum, Tifton, GA pictured below.[2]  

    

  This 1911 advertisement shows how the machine would have looked when new. The “Columbia” shingle mill was made by Perkins and Co. from Grand Rapids, MI. The shingle machine had a  36 inch diameter horizontal saw blade. The blade guard displays raised lettering with the company name, location, and patent dates.  

  In 1910 a number of other Ray City people gave their place of employment as “shingle mill.”   William C. Shaw was a laborer at a shingle mill, as was Jesse Booth.  His father, Robert Booth, was a manufacturer of shingles, working on his own account, but was not listed as an employer.  Related posts:

Near Lynching at Adel and the other F.M. Shaw

Francis Marion Shaw (1846 – 1922) was a long time resident of the Ray City, Georgia area.  Bryan Shaw of the Berrien County Historical Foundation and descendant of Francis Marion Shaw has written extensively about his life (see http://www.fmshawfamily.com/) and has also provided many Shaw family photos at http://berriencountyga.com/

The Other Francis Marion Shaw

But there was another Francis Marion Shaw who resided in the community of Adel, GA.  This F.M. Shaw was known as Francis Marion Shaw, Jr. to distinguish him from the F.M. Shaw of Ray City, known as F.M. Shaw, Sr.  even though the two were only distantly related.

“Francis Marion Shaw, Jr. owned large tracts of land east of Adel, much of which was later deeded to his children. He served in various civic positions, including that of Chairman of the Berrien County Board of Education, County
Commissioner for several terms, and state Representative, the latter an office to which he was elected in 1894.”

 As a sitting County Commissioner at the time the Berrien County Courthouse was completed in Nashville, GA  the name of F.M. Shaw, Jr.  appears on the marble dedication plaque at the entrance to the building.  His term as a commissioner, though, was not all ceremonial, and it wasn’t all “order in the court.”

The following article concerning F.M. Shaw, Jr. of Adel was found in the Atlanta Constitution, May 27, 1902 edition:

MOB IS LIKELY TO LYNCH SEVEN

People are Incensed Over Shooting of Marshal Hyres.

Mayor of Adel Communicates with Governor Candler – He Declares Unless Special Term of Court Is Held, Lynching Can’t Be Stopped.

Valdosta, Ga., May 26. -(Special.)-From telegrams received in this city tonight, it appears that a wholesale lynching is imminent at Adel, 24 miles north of here, on the Georgia Southern railway.  It is very likely that before the sun rises tomorrow morning seven negroes will have been strung up.
W.A. Hyers, marshal of Adel, was shot and mortally wounded by a young negro whom he attempted to arrest last Thursday night. The negro escaped, but was captured at Moultrie on Saturday.
Since his arrest it has developed that the negro was the tool of a gang of six negro gamblers, who it is said gave him $5 and a pistol to kill the marshal. These negroes are under arrest and the people are wrought to a desperate pitch of excitement and are clamoring for the lives of the gang.
A telegram was sent to Solicitor General Thomas, in this city, tonight, signed by Mayor C.B. Webb and County Commissioner F.M. Shaw, stating that unless positive assurance was given that a special term of Berrien superior court would be held to try the accused parties it would be impossible, they feared, to prevent the lynching of the negroes. Solicitor Thomas at once informed Governor Candler and the county judge of Berrien, Judge Hansel and the sheriff, of the state of affairs, and will use every means to avert the lynching.

The Ray City News ~ Once A Hometown Georgia Newspaper

The press that printed the Ray City News may have resembled this model from the early 1900s

An article from the Nashville Herald, Nashville, GA dated Feb 16, 1956 stated that there was once a newspaper in Ray City, GA known as the Ray City News.  The Ray City News first went to press around 1909.

The Ray City News which began publication, with Harvey Terry as editor,  soon after the name of the town was changed to Ray City, was an aggressive newspaper and placed the little community well in the limelight of affairs of the day, though it finally had to discontinue publication for lack of patronage.

 

Today,  a few old timers in Ray City recall seeing old copies of the Ray City News, although none can remember as far back to its days of publication.  Has anyone still got a copy of the old hometown rag?

Some other long forgotten local community newspapers from the turn of the 20th century were the Green Bay Herald, edited by Lucien Clements and Emma Patten, and the Pine Grove Gimlet, edited by W. R. Roberts and J. W. Norwood.

The Ray City News made another run in 1929 with M. F. Folsom, Manager and Editor.

 

Advertisement for a printing press from the February, 1908 edition of The Practical Printer.

Related posts:

Ray City News Goes to Press

1929 Merchants Support Ray City News

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 ~ M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs

aaa

General Knight’s Railroad Rolls Into Civil War

By 1857, 36 miles of track had been completed and there were grand designs that the Brunswick & Florida Railroad line would extend all the way to Pensacola, Florida. With service through connecting lines the B&F would provide passenger and freight service from the interior as far west as Vicksburg, MS all the way to the east coast shipping port at Brunswick, GA. The state of Georgia invested half a million dollars in the railroad company’s stock.

The advantage of  the B&F, it was said. was that it could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.”[14]

Levi J. Knight was present when the annual Convention of the Stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad Company was held at Brunswick, GA on Wednesday, May 13, 1857.  The good news was that construction of the road was progressing,  but there was no report on the financial condition of the company. General Knight was among those who advocated for the company to negotiate an agreement with the Main Trunk railroad that would secure funding for the construction of a railroad line across southern Georgia.

According to Wikipedia, “By 1859, the railroad stretched from Brunswick to Glenmore, Georgia, where it connected with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

 

Ultimately, Levi J. Knight’s investment in the B&F railroad became another casualty of the Civil War.  “The Brunswick and Florida Railroad was in operation up to the fall of 1863, when the Confederate Government seized it under the Impressment Act, tore up the rails, and distributed the property of the Company among other railroads, which were considered as leading military lines.”[15]

“After the war in 1869, the State of Georgia provided about $6 million in bonds to rebuild. The railroad was then reorganized as the Brunswick and Albany Railroad.”

The Brunswick and Albany Railroad (B&A) took over operation of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad. By May 1869, the B&A had reopened tracks between Brunswick, Georgia, and a connection with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad at Tebeauville  (now Waycross), GA. The B&A went bankrupt in 1872 after a bond was nullified by the Georgia General Assembly. It was reorganized in 1882 and was then named the Brunswick and Western Railroad.

Related Posts:

General Levi J. Knight ~ Railroad Tycoon

Following his retirement from the Georgia Militia, General Levi J. Knight invested in the construction of Georgia railroads.  He became one of the principals in the Brunswick & Florida Railroad. The B&F Railroad had been originally chartered in 1835 with a proposed route “between Brunswick, Georgia and the Territory of Florida.” A U.S. Congressional Act of 1837 granted that, “the Brunswick and Florida Rail-road Company, incorporated by an act of the Legislature of Georgia, be, and they are hereby, authorized to extend their rail-road from the Georgia line to the city of Tallahassee, and thence to the river Apalachicola, or St. George’s sound.” But the Panic of 1837 derailed the enterprise, and “nothing more was done until the fifties, when funds were raised and preparations were made to build the road.”

By the 1850’s southwest Georgia had undergone substantial industrial and commercial growth; and  a rail connection to ports on the eastern seaboard  was desirable, with Brunswick holding the best hope. “The prospects for traffic on such a road, in the event of its construction, were very good. The project was now revived under the Brunswick and Florida Railroad charter, which had been kept passively in existence; and shortly before 1855 funds were secured with which construction might be undertaken, and preparations were made accordingly.”

In December, 1853 in the Georgia State House at Milledgeville, GA, Representative Levi J. Knight introduced a bill to extend State credit to railroad companies “to assist them in the purchase of iron.”  At the introduction the House seemed to have great enthusiasm for the bill, but the following day, they voted to table it.

In 1854 General Knight attended meetings of the stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad.

On May 31, 1854 General Knight was at the stockholders meeting in  the Oglethorpe Hotel  in Macon, GA:

The Macon Georgia Telegraph
June 13, 1854

Meeting of the Stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad

According to agreement, by public advertisement, a portion of the stockholders of this road assembled at the Oglethorpe Hotel on the 31st ult. The names of the delegates as far as we can learn, are as follows:

      Messrs, Davis, Hodges, and Peabody, of New York; Maj. E.E. Young, Col. Young, Boston and Northfield, of Thomas; T.A.A. Bryan and Gen. Levi J. Knight of Lowndes, besides several others whose names we have not by us. There were also several present from this county, but as the meeting adjourned somewhat prematurely, and without any definite action, we are unable to furnish a full report.

      The meeting assembled at 10 o’clock A.M., and proceeded to business. The minutes of the last annual meeting were read, as also were several reports adopted by the Board of Directors in New York, one of which we published today.  The other reports, for some reason unknown to us, we were unable to obtain, the substance of which, however, we are in possession of.  The principle report to which we allude was in regard to the financial condition of the company.  This report states that $102,000 had been paid on some 11,000 shares by the Northern stockholders, and that this amount, with the exception of $9,65 had been paid out for iron and work done on the road.

    After the adoption of the several reports, Major E.E. Young, of Thomas, took the floor and made few vigorous and substantial remarks, the substance of which was…

 

The meeting adjourned with the agreement to meet again on the 15th of July, 1854 at Thomasville, GA.

The following year at the May stockholders meeting of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad, General Knight was elected to continue as the only southern representative on the board of  directors. The Milledgeville Southern Recorder, May 15, 1855 — page 2 reported:

“On motion of Mr. Knight, the meeting then went into the election of Directors for the ensuing year. The tellers having performed their duty, it appeared that 9,124 votes were represented, and were cast unanimously in favor of the following ticket:

Levi J. Knight, of Georgia.
Henry Spalding Welles, of New York.
Chancy Vibbard, Albany.
Charles B. Stuart, New York.
Paris G. Clark, New York.
S.W. Goodrich, New york.
George E. Gray, Albany.

The Chairman announced that the above had been unanimously chosen Directors of the Brunswick & Florida Railroad Company, for the ensuing year.”

In this endeavor, Levi J. Knight was associated with some of the greatest and most powerful railroad men of the age:

Henry Spalding Welles “identified himself in 1847 with the rapid spread of railroads, and his first operation was the construction of some twenty-seven miles of the Great Western Railroad in Canada. He constructed in 1853, under the firm name of H.S. Welles & Co., the then great work of over one hundred miles of the New York and Erie Railroad, together with sixteen miles of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad.  The firm also built forty miles of the Buffalo and State Line Railroad (now a part of the Lake Shore Railroad;) some forty miles of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad, a very heavy mechanical work. the whole of the Lackawanna and Bloomsburg Railroad; the Warren Railroad of New Jersey, forty miles long.  At the breaking out of the [Civil] war the firm had nearly finished the Brunswik and Albany Railroad, 350 miles, across the State of Georgia. Probably the greatest work of Welles & Co. was the waterworks of the City of Brooklyn, the contract price being about $5,000,000. Mr. Welles was one of the projectors of the Portage Lake and Lake Superior Ship Canal Company in Michigan.  After the civil war he contracted with the United States Government to clear Savannah Harbor of its sunken obstructions. He was identified with many private enterprises and was a man of great personal magnetism, energy, and commanding presence.”

Chauncy Vibbard, a U.S. Congressional “Representative from New York; born in Galway, Saratoga County, N.Y., November 11, 1811; attended the common schools and was graduated from Mott’s Academy for Boys, Albany, N.Y.; clerk in a wholesale grocery store in Albany, N.Y.; moved to New York City, and in 1834 went to Montgomery, Ala.; returned to New York and settled in Schenectady; was appointed chief clerk of the Utica & Schenectady Railroad Co. in 1836; became a railroad freight and ticket agent in 1848; consolidated the many little railroads of western New York into the New York Central Railroad Co., serving as its first general superintendent 1853-1865; elected as a Democrat to the Thirty-seventh Congress (March 4, 1861-March 3, 1863); declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1862; during the Civil War served as director and superintendent of military railroads in 1862; first president of the Family Fund Insurance Co. 1864-1867; moved to New York City in 1865 and became involved in the business of steamship lines and elevated railroads; interested in the development of southern railroads and South and Central American enterprises at the time of his retirement in 1889; died in Macon, Ga., June 5, 1891; interment in Riverside Cemetery.”

Charles Beebe Stuart (June 4, 1814 – January 4, 1881) was an American engineer, United States Navy and Union Army officer and politician. “After being graduated from Union College, he was engaged in the construction of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad, one of the first lines built in this country.  He subsequently constructed the Brooklyn dry docks.  His skill won for him the position of Engineer-in-Chief of the United States Navy. He was the author of an elaborate work on naval architecture, and one on the construction of dry docks, which attracted the attention of the Duke of Wellington, the Emperor of Russia, the Sultan of Turkey, and others.  While State Engineer of New York he conceived the idea of building the suspension bridge across Niagara River.  Though not the engineer in charge of its construction, he had much to do with it, and his wife was the first person to cross it, she being drawn over in a basket on a wire. Upon the breaking out of the late war, Gen. Stewart raised two regiments of engineers, of which he was given command with the rank of Brevet Brigadier General. His service was entirely in the Army of the Potomac, constructing forts, fortifications, and bridges. He was recently engaged in the construction of the Conotton Valley Railroad, now being built from the coal fields in Carroll County to this city by Boston capitalists, and, as in all his previous efforts, he showed marked ability.”  –obituary of General Charles B. Stuart

George Edward Gray “studied civil engineering under Pelatiah Rawson, a United States pioneer in the profession. He was employed as resident engineer of the Black River Canal, New York, at two different periods, and once on the Erie Canal.  He also worked as assistant engineer on the New York and Harlem Railroad, was appointed chief engineer of the Utica and Schenectady and the Mohawk Valley Railroads in 1852, and in 1853 was made chief engineer, when those two roads were consolidated into the New York Central System. In that capacity he built the first wrought-iron bridge, and from 1860 to 1865, acted as chief engineer of the Hudson River Bridge at Albany.”  – Bio of George Edward Gray

On Wednesday, Feb. 27, 1856 Levi J. Knight was present at the state Capitol in Milledgeville, GA where he sat as a member at the first meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the newly chartered Atlantic and Gulf Railroad Company.  The major action of the sitting members of the Board was to organize the first meeting of the full Board to be held at the Capitol in Milledgeville, GA on the 31st of March, 1856.  General Knight was not present at the second meeting of the Board, where the major business was the establishment of a chair and business committee, and to arrange for the public subscription to the capital stock of the company.

By 1857, 36 miles of track had been completed and there were grand designs that the B&F line would extend all the way to Pensacola, Florida. With service through connecting lines the B&F would provide passenger and freight service from the interior as far west as Vicksburg,MS all the way to the east coast shipping port at Brunswick, GA. The state of Georgia invested half a million dollars in the railroad company’s stock. The advantage of  the B&F, it was said. was that it could move men and materials from ports on the Gulf of Mexico to the Brunswick port on the Atlantic in 24 hours “in case of war between this country and a foreign nation.”

Levi J. Knight was present when the annual Convention of the Stockholders of the Brunswick and Florida Railroad Company was held at Brunswick, GA on Wednesday, May 13, 1857.  The good news was that construction of the road was progressing,  but there was no report on the financial condition of the company. General Knight was among those who advocated for the company to negotiate an agreement with the Main Trunk railroad that would secure funding for the construction of a railroad line across southern Georgia.

According to Wikipedia, “By 1859, the railroad stretched from Brunswick to Glenmore, Georgia, where it connected with the Atlantic and Gulf Railroad.

Related Posts:

« Older entries