In the early 1900s, Box Ball was a popular arcade game that was sweeping the country. In 1914, box ball made its way to Ray City, GA. An advertisement appearing in a 1914 Berrien County, GA newspaper promoted a new amusement park and and attractions at Ray’s Mill (now know as Ray City). The Mayhaw Lake Amusement Park was a business operated by Elias Moore “Hun” Knight.
MAYHAW LAKE AT RAYS MILL, GA – Mayhaw lake is located 1-2 from Rays Mill and is now open. For outings, picnics and amusements, it can’t be excelled in South Georgia. – A fine bathing pool supplied with fine Sulphur water, one of the best Skating Rinks and Box Ball Allers in this Section. Cold drinks, hot lunches at all hours during day and night; also a good base ball diamond open to visiting teams for match games. – The Georgia & Florida Railroad will give special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. – For Special Rates apply to T.E. Harris, Commercial Agent Ga. & Fla., Valdosta, Ga. – E.M. Knight, Prop. – Ray’s Mill, Georgia.
Box ball alleys were manufactured by the American Box Ball Company (Holcomb & Hoke). The company website provides the following information:
Box ball was a modified version of bowling, using smaller balls in knocking down five pins set horizontally across a wooden alley. Lanes were portable and available in three sizes, providing for quick and easy installation in amusements parks, bars and other entertainment venues both big and small. Purchase of American Box Ball Company in 1903 prompted Holcomb & Hoke’s relocation to Indianapolis, Indiana. Fueled by the cross-country success of their fledgling business, the two men built their first manufacturing facility in 1906. Demand for the game remained steady for the next seven years, at which time they concluded that the box ball market was nearly saturated.
E.M. Knight must have regarded box ball alleys as a good investment. He may have been able to acquire a used alley, or perhaps he purchased direct from the manufacturer. A 1914 ad touted the potential profits of a box ball alley operation.