The Marriage of John David Miley and Lessie Lee Guthrie

John David Miley, of Hahira,  and Lessie  Lee Guthrie, of Ray City, were married February 24, 1926 inValdosta, GA.  They were married at Christian Parsonage by Reverend Richard Wallace.  Mrs. Wallace served as the witness.

Lessie Guthrie was raised in Ray City and spent most of her life here. Her ancestors were among the pioneer families that settled Berrien County, and many of the Guthrie family connection still reside in the Ray City area.

Lessie Guthrie Miley and John David Miley, 1928, Brunswick, GA.

Lessie Guthrie Miley and John David Miley, 1928, Brunswick, GA.

Following their wedding, John D. Miley took a job at the A & P  Grocery, in Waycross, GA.  At the first opportunity, though, he took the Civil Service Entrance Exam, and got a position with the U.S. Postal Service working at the Post Office in Brunswick, GA.  Thereafter, John D. Miley worked with the postal service the rest of his life.  Even when he served in the military, his service was in mail delivery.

The Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 edition mentioned, “Mrs. John D Miley of Brunswick is visiting relatives here.”

Personal mention in the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929.

Personal mention in the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929.

Lessie Guthrie Miley with daughter Diane Miley, circa 1934

In the early 1930’s John D and Lessie had two children, Diane and David. But by 1935,  they were experiencing marital difficulties. 

Lessie left Brunswick and took the childen to Florida. They lived for a short time with Lessie’s brothers, Sam and John Guthrie, in an apartment  in Winterhaven, FL.  John D. Miley came to see her, they reconciled, and he took his family back to Brunswick.

The marriage of Lessie Lee Guthrie and John David Miley lasted another four years.   They separated in 1939 while living in Hollywood, Florida.

John David Miley, Jr., "David", circa 1939.

 Lessie was left alone there with her two children.  Her mother-in-law, Narcissus


Miley, came from Hahira, GA to take them back to Georgia.  Narcissus arranged for a large railroad crate to be delivered to Lessie’s place of residence. She packed all of Lessie’s possessions, her electric appliances, clothes, everything right down to the doilies.  The railroad picked up the crate and they all rode the train together back to Hahira.  Lessie and the kids stayed with Narcissus in Hahira about a week.  Then June Guthrie, Lessie’s brother, came to get them and took them back to the Guthrie farm on Park Street, Ray City, GA.


Later, Lessie wrote, “We came back to Ray City on Easter Sunday, 1939.  John D. left us December 1938 – one week before Christmas.  We remained in Hollywood, until Granny Miley, went and brought us back on Easter Sunday.”

For more on the Guthrie and Miley families, and the history of Ray City, GA visit

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

Another clipping from the Ray City News, historic newspaper of Ray City, GA.  The article mentions that M. G. Melton intends to open a movie theater in Ray City.  Did the silver screen ever come to Ray City?

Just about every small southern town boasted a theater. Nashville, GA had a theater on the courthouse square. The Ilex Theater in Quitman, GA  built around 1928 was designed by Valdosta architect Lloyd Greer, who also designed the Ray City School.  Greer is also credited with designing the Lyric Theater in Waycross, GA and many other south Georgia buildings.

M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 newspaper edition.

M.G. Melton Buys A. Turner Brick Bldgs. Clipping from the Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929 newspaper edition.

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

   A transaction of much interest to the people of Ray City and surrounding  community is that in which Mr. M. G. Melton of Hahira purchased the two large brick buildings known as the Andrew Turner Buildings.  One of the buildings is two stories high and the top floor is needed for the telephone exchange.
     The bottom floor will be converted into an up to date moving picture theatre.  The adjoining building will be remodeled inside and a fresh line of merchandise put in.
    This transaction will mean much to the commercial life of Ray City and will afford local amusements for our citizens.
    The Ray City News takes great pleasure in welcoming Mr. Melton here, men of this calibre who can help develop our town will alway receive a hearty welcome by us.

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Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

More on Andrew Washington Turner and Phoebe Isabelle Sirmans

1929 Merchants Support Ray City News

Ray City News Goes to Press

The Ray City News ~ Once A Hometown Georgia Newspaper

W. H. E. Terry Comes to Ray City


Herman Knight Guthrie ~ 1948 Junior Class President

Herman Knight Guthrie, Junior Class President of 1948, Ray City School, Ray City, GA

Herman Knight Guthrie, Junior Class President of 1948, Ray City School, Ray City, GA

Herman Knight Guthrie was raised in Ray City, GA where many of the Guthrie family connection have resided.  As a student, he attended the Ray City School, and was President of the Junior Class of 1948.

Herman Knight Guthrie passed away in 2006. His obituary was published in the Valdosta Times:

Valdosta Daily Times
21 Mar 2006
Valdosta , GA , Us..

    Herman Knight Guthrie, 72, of Valdosta, passed away Sunday morning, March 19, 2006, at his residence after a brief illness.

   He was born in Winter Haven, Fla. on Nov. 3, 1933, to the late Herman Brown and Agnes Knight Guthrie. At an early age, he and his family moved to Ray City where he lived until his graduation from Berrien County High School. He served in the United States Air Force as a aircraft mechanic in Japan and French Indochina. After returning to Valdosta he continued his career as an aircraft mechanic at Moody Air Force Base. He owned and operated Guthrie’s Gulf for 15 years. He returned to Moody in the transit maintenance department where he retired in 1995. One of his favorite pasttimes was auto racing, which he pursued as one of the founders of Thunderbowl Speedway. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Valdosta for more than 50 years. His wife, Mary Jane Brooks Guthrie, preceded him in death.

    Survivors include two sons and daughter-in-law, Gary and Susan Guthrie of Powder Springs and Brad Guthrie of Valdosta; two grandchildren, Branyon Guthrie and Sarah Guthrie; brother and sister-in-law, Carroll and Jacque Guthrie of Ray City; two nephews, Larry Guthrie and Mike Guthrie; and two nieces, Carroll Jean Lawrence and Cara Lee Staples.

    Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, 2006, in the Valdosta chapel of Music Funeral Services with burial following in Sunset Hill Cemetery. The family will receive friends tonight from 6 – 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Sympathy may be expressed online at ? Music Funeral Services of Valdosta.

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Dr. Folsom ~ Warrior Doctor

Dr. George Hill Folsom had family connections and was well known in Ray City and Berrien County, GA for more than 50 years.  He came to live in Berrien County some time prior to 1929, and established a home in Ray City where he engaged in general practice as one of the Medical Men of Ray’s Mill.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Dr. George Hill Folsom lived in Ray City, GA in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

George Hill Folsom was born July 26, 1877 in Colquitt County Georgia, a son of Randall Nathaniel Folsom and Mary E. Marchant.  George Hill Folsom could trace his ancestry back to William Folsom (ca 1745-1785), “who assisted in establishing independence while acting in the capacity of Lieutenant in the Georgia Line.” Lieutenant William Folsom is thought to be a native of Virgina who later moved to Georgia where he lived  and died in Burke County.

At age 3, George Hill Folsom was enumerated in the town of Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where his father was engaged in farming.

On April 7, 1903 George H. Folsom married Mattie Laura Brown in Pinopolis, Colquitt County, GA.  Her parents, Eliza Catherine Hancock and Simon Peter Brown, were also from Colquitt County, but had relocated to the 1487th district in Berrien County some time before 1900.

It is said that George H. Folsom  attended the Atlanta School of Medicine. If so, he would have studied there sometime between 1906 and 1910.

The Atlanta School of Medicine was  formally opened in October 1905, and became a part of Emory University in 1913.

It appears that  Mattie Folsom continued to live with her parents while George was away at medical school, for the couple’s   first child, Bessie Viola Folsom, was born on March 11, 1905 at Milltown, GA (now Lakeland). A second daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, was born at Ray City, GA on June 13, 1908.

After receiving a medical degree, Dr. George H. Folsom returned to his birthplace.  In the Census of 1910, he is enumerated on May 2, 1910 with his wife and daughters in Warrior, Colquitt County, GA where he was employed in general medical practice.  Although Mattie’s parents had also relocated back to Colquitt County by this time, the Folsoms must have retained a place or family connections near Ray City, for on December 11, 1910 this is where their first son, Ernest William Folsom, was delivered. A second son, George Jr. was born at Lakeland in 1913, followed by a daughter delivered at Valdosta in 1915.

By 1917, Dr. Folsom had moved his family to  Ellenton, GA where he engaged in general practice on his own account.  The Folsoms lived in a house on Baker Street, which Dr. Folsom owned free and clear.

It was while living in Ellenton that George Hill Folsom registered for the draft for World War I.  At 40 years of age, he was described as tall and stout, with dark hair and blue eyes. He was not called to serve in the war.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

Dr. George Hill Folsom, wife Mattie and the children.

The Folsom’s final two children were both born in Valdosta, GA; Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919 and Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924.

In 1928, Dr. Folsom’s daughter, Susie Mae Folsom, married Joseph Edward Boyett in Nashville, GA.  Apparently by at least 1929, the rest of the G.H. Folsom family had moved to Berrien, this time to Ray City, GA.  Dr. Folsom served on the 1929 Board  of Trustees for Ray City School.  He was one of the business men who endorsed the establishment of the Ray City News newspaper.

The Census of 1930 found the Folsom family living in town in Ray City. Dr. Folsom owned one of the finest homes in town, valued at $3000.  Mrs. Folsom kept house while their daughter, Bessie Folsom, was a grammar school teacher. The rest of the children were not employed and presumably were engaged in studies.  The family neighbors were H. C. Hutchison and the widow Mary J. Fountain.

By 1934, the Folsoms moved to Lakeland, Lanier County, GA where Dr. Folsom continued his medical practice.  A notice from the 1934 Lanier County News puts the financial outlook of the medical profession in the 1930s into perspective:

Notice to Public: To Whom It May Concern:  By mutual agreement the following charges will be made for our services effective immediately: Office Calls, $1.00. Local Calls, $1.50. Out of Town Calls 50 cents per mile. $1.00 extra charge will be made for night calls, both local and out of town. Obstetrics, $25.00 cash, or $30.00 on time, with $10.00 cash payment. Dr.  Louis Smith, Dr. G.H. Folsom.

By the 1940 census, George and Mattie Folsom had moved to Lakeland where they were living on Church Street. Still living in the Folsom household were the doctor’s adult children, Bessie, Ernest, Elmer, and 16-year-old Brownie. The Folsoms owned a home valued at $5000.

Income data from the 1940 census paints an interesting picture of relative wages of the time. The good doctor was drawing an annual income of $1000 for his 70 hour work week.  Bessie was working as a school teacher with an income of $540. Ernest Folsom, a road inspector for the Highway Dept, was drawing the highest wages, at $1200.

Dr. Folsom’s wife,Mattie Laura Brown, died November 8, 1947.  Dr. Folsom continued to live in Lakeland until his death January 17, 1963.

Children of Mattie Laura Brown and George Hill Folsom:

  1. Bessie Viola Folsom, born March 11, 1905, Lakeland, GA
  2. Susie Mae Folsom, born June 13, 1908, Ray City, GA RFD
  3. Ernest William Folsom, born December 11, 1910, Ray City, GA
  4. George Hill Folsom, Jr., born July 8, 1913, Lakeland, GA
  5. Katie Louise Folsom, born September 20, 1915, Valdosta, GA
  6. Elmer  A. Folsom, born July 9, 1919, Valdosta, GA
  7. Elton Brown Folsom, born March 6, 1924, Valdosta, GA

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1929 Merchants Support Ray City News

Many Ray City, GA residents felt that a home town newspaper was an essential element in the growth of the town. When the Ray City News began printing the local news, the local businessmen and merchants placed a full page advertisement showing their support.

The Ray City News, Ray City, Georgia


    The undersigned merchants and business men of Ray City herewith announces the establishment of The Ray City News in the town of Ray City;
    And believing that a paper here means a great deal to the commercial life and development of our town, we are taking this method of be-speaking, for the paper, the support of the public and in asking that you subscribe to and read the Ray City News:

Citzens Bank of Ray City
M. G. Melton
C. O. Terry
Swindle & Clements
W.H.E. Terry
J. H.P. Johnson
J. L. Moore
Dr. G. H. Folsom
Charlie Shaw
Norton Service Station
A. Levin
L. F. Giddens
H. W. Woodard
J. A. Purvis
Studstill and Clements
G. M. Purvis    General Merchandise
Ray City Motor Co
Ray City Ice and Cold Storage Co.

Ray City News Goes to Press

As previously mentioned, Ray City, GA once boasted its own newspaper, known as the Ray City News.  As it turns out, there ARE a very few existing copies of the old hometown rag on display at the Ray City, GA  City Hall.  This blog will be bringing forth transcribed articles as they can be made available.

Prior local histories mention Harvey Terry as the paper’s editor, but  he has no presence in the known copies of the paper.

When the Ray City News went to press in 1929, those at the helm were M. F. Folsom, Manager and Editor, and F. G. Thompson, Assistant Manager. The paper was owned by the South Georgia Publishing Company.

The Volume 1, Number 1 edition was dated Thursday, January 3, 1929.  Subscriptions were $1.00 per year.

The paper included the following brief editorial:

Dr. Charles X. Jones ~ Ray City’s First Elected Mayor

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones

Perhaps the first official resident of the newly incorporated town of  Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA was Dr. Charles X. Jones. Dr. Jones built the first dwelling house within the city limits. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past his house, Jones Street, was named in his honor.

Dr. Jones received his medical degree from Georgia University, now known as Georgia Regents University, in 1898. The Standard Medical Directory of North America, 1902 gave this description of the school:

GEORGIA UNIVERSITY, Medical Department, Augusta; Dean Eugene Foster; Medical Academy organized 1829; suspended 1861-65; present title 1873. Admission: Certificate from high school or equivalent. Graduation: Age 21, attendance on three lecture courses of six months each, the last at this school. Fees: $100.00, examination $30.00. Faculty: Professors 10, demonstrator 1, instructors 7. Property $36,000.00. Recognition: I. S. B. H., U. 8. >’. Y. Matriculates last session 145.

In 1900, Dr. Jones was boarding with the James S. Swindle family in Ray’s Mill, GA (nka Ray City).

In an March 10, 1909 Atlanta Constitution article, Eugene Ray testified, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Dr. Jones was one of six men named to serve as councilmen until the first city elections could be organized. Redding D. Swindle was appointed as Mayor. On  election day Jan 10, 1910 it was Dr. Jones who became the first elected mayor of Ray City.

Dr. Jones was the first doctor to set up a practice within the newly incorporated city, although prior to that he and  Dr. Guy Selman had been practicing medicine in the  community, and there were other Medical Men of Ray’s Mill .   Dr. Jones kept offices across the street from his house, in a building located on the south side of what is now Main Street.

In 1912, The Georgia annual : a compendium of useful information about Georgia : needed by every business and professional man in the state. A.B. Caldwell, Atlanta, Ga. listed Jones as one of three doctors in Ray City, the other two being Dr. Guy Selman and Dr. Manning G. Scherrer.

Later, the Jones home was occupied by the Tom Studstill family until it burned in the 1940’s .  In  1976, his  former offices were the home of Mrs. Henry H. Vaughn.

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The Grand Jury of 1868, Berrien County, Georgia

Moses C. Lee,  his brother-in-law Samuel E. Register,  and Jonathan D. Knight, all early settlers of the Ray City area, served together on the 1868 term of the Berrien County Grand Jury, as did Benjamin Perry Jones, who would later engage in banking at Ray City and Valdosta, GA

The Court of 1868 was convened at a time following the Civil War, when the business of the county was in disarray.  A Berrien County Centennial edition of the Nashville Herald observed in retrospect, “Pillage and plunder, indignities and overbearing had galled the necks of Berrien County taxpayers for  three years or more; the loss of their boys on the front was still a cankering sore in the hearts of the fathers and mothers bereaved by the war’s toll on human life and wanton destruction of property.”  The county government had reached a financially unsound state and the taxpayers wanted an accounting.

The Grand Jury was faced with investigating the cause of the fiscal problems. The members were frustrated and perhaps contentious in reaching a conclusion in the matter, and their deliberations were inordinately extended. Jury members were at odds over who was to blame for it all.  Eventually, Judge Hansell, the presiding magistrate, adjourned the Court even though the Grand Jury had not concluded.

The Judge’s action  led the members of the Grand Jury to make a General Presentment that was harshly critical and highly publicized. This was despite the fact that when the court was convened, the Judge had notified the jury of his intention to adjourn on schedule that he might return to the bedside of his wife, who was in poor health.

The minutes of the court provide the following:

“We the jury chosen, selected and sworn to serve at this court respectfully ask for the appointment of a judge that would do justice to our county.

” We denounce Judge Hansell for adjourning the court  and leaving the business of the grand jury unfinished, and in such condition that it is impossible for us to proceed further.

“We denounce the course of all our county officers who are connected with the financial matter of our county, in that we find it impossible to make a proper investigation on account of the negligence of the officers.

“We, finding it impossible to arrive at the financial condition of the county, we recommend that no extra tax be levied on the county till the county records of the treasurer be ascertained by the succeeding grand jury, of the county.

“We respectfully ask the Clerk of the Court to place on the minutes these resolutions and to furnish Maj. Pendleton with a copy of same for publication.”

D.G. Hutchison, Forman
Thos. D. Lindsey,
P. Tison,
Malcolm McMillan,
B.P. Jones,
A. H. Turner,
Moses C. Lee,
M. C. Futch,
J. B. Giddens,
M. Tison,
John McMillan, Jr.,
John Hesters,
Wiley Tison,
H. B. Dodson,
S. E. Register,
J.D. Knight,
T. Mathis,
John G. Taylor,
T.J. Lindsey.
William Folsom

Major Pendleton was the editor of the Valdosta Times.  The jury’s denouncement was published in the Times, followed by a backlash against the jurors – who received  “the indignant criticisms this episode created, so great was the love and esteem which was extended for Judge Hansell,”   by many citizens in the Southern Circuit.

It is said that many of the jurors of the 1868 term later regretted their actions in regards to Judge Hansell.  And while this smirch on his record may be preserved in the minutes, it was far outweighed by another 35 years spent on the bench following the 1868 term.

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Avera Cemetery Near Ray City, GA

William Green Avera and a few others of the Avera family connection are buried in the family cemetery just a few miles from Ray City, GA.

Grave of William Green Avera, Avera Cemetery, near Ray City, Berrien County, GA


Map showing Avera Cemetery and Ray City, GA

More on William Green Avera & Family

Image Detail: William Green Avera, circa 1913

Found a bit more on William Green Avera (1855-1944), life-long educator  and Superintendent of Berrien County Schools, who lived near Ray City, GA.

William Green Avera was the eldest child of Stephen Willis Avera and Martha Elizabeth Akins. When an infant,  his parents brought him to the newly formed Berrien County, where his father engaged in farming.

During the war he [Stephen Willis Avera] enlisted and became a soldier of Company E of the Fifty-fourth Georgia Infantry. His command joined the western army under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and Hood, and stubbornly resisted Sherman’s advance all the way from Dalton to Atlanta. After the fall of the latter city he went to Hood’s army, participating in the battles at Jonesboro, Franklin, Murfreesboro and Nashville, and after the last named engagement he was sent home on detached duty, the war closing before his recall to the front.”

“Laying aside the musket he again put his hand to the plow, and was engaged in farming in Berrien county until 1887, when he sold out and bought a farm in Colquitt county which he still occupies, having reached the good old age of seventy-six years. He married Martha Elizabeth Aikins, who was born in Clinch county, a daughter of William Green and Winnie Ann (Moore) Aikins. Stephen W. Avera and wife reared eleven children, whose names are William Green, Winnie Ann, Polly Ann, Sarah O’Neal, Daniel M., Lyman H., Phebe V., Lou, Junius H., Cordelia and Martha.”

The image detail above is from a family photo taken circa 1913:

The Avera family photo appeared in the 1956 Berrien Centennial edition of the Nashville Herald with the following caption:

MEN IN HISTORY – Above are four men who played a part in the history of Berrien County.  Top left is the late W. G. Avera, better known as “Uncle Billy,” who spent his life working for better education, serving as a teacher and County School Superintendent.  He was also a leader in religious fields. Lower left is Willis Avera, father of W. G. Avera. He fought in the War Between the States. Upper right is I. C. Avera, sheriff of Berrien County for 16 years. Lower right is Daniel Griner, father of Mrs. I. C.  Avera, whose family settled on lands in the eastern part of Berrien County, now part of Nashville. The land was first farmed and later sold as home sites.  The baby is Phin Avera, grandson of the four. The two on left are his maternal grandparents, and the other two his paternal grandparents.

Photo as it appeared in the 1956 centennial edition of the Nashville Herald.

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