Effie Guthrie and the Knight Brothers of Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie, daughter of Arren H. Guthrie  and Lucy Newbern, was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA and many of the Guthrie family connection still reside here.   She married first Ralph Knight.

Ralph Knight was one of the Knight brothers of Ray City, GA:  PaulAdrian, Ralph, and Raleigh, all sons of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmie Gardener Gullette.  There were four Knight sisters; Julia Elizabeth Knight, and Ruby Texas Knight, Dollie Howard Knight, and Laurie Inez Knight.

Effie became good friends with her sister-in-law Julia Knight.  After Ralph Knight was killed in the Otranto disaster of World War I, Julia and Effie sometimes travelled together.  Around 1921-22, the two women travelled by train to New York City on a shopping trip.  Later, Effie married Ralph’s brother,  Adrian Knight.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Reverend Joseph Frank Snell, Pastor of the Ray City Methodist Church

Joseph Frank Snell served as Pastor of the Ray City Methodist Church during 1921 and 1922.  A very brief sketch of his life was published in 1911.


Author: J. C. Flanigan
Rev. J. Frank Snell.

Rev. J. Frank Snell was born in London, England, May 22, 1885, and came to America the following year. He lived practically all his life at Snellville, Gwinnett county, and for years was correspondent for the county paper at that point.

He was educated in the public schools of his community and at Young-Harris College. He has taught in various schools in Gwinnett and other counties.

He was licensed to preach at Jefferson, Ga., July 13, 1905, and is at present serving his first charge as pastor of the Woodland circuit, Columbus district, in Tolbert County.

From the Draft Board records of Muscogee County, GA, the following information can be added. Joseph Frank Snell was a short, slender man with brown eyes and dark hair.  He registered for the draft for World War I on September 12, 1918 in Columbus, GA.  He gave his occupation as the Ministry. At the time he was residing in Midland, GA.

In the Census of 1920, he was enumerated in Morven, Brooks County, GA  where he was living with his wife, Ruby, and children Francis and Joseph T. Snell.  By 1921 he was pastor of the Methodist Church in Ray City.

1923 Revival Meeting Season in Ray City, GA

According to this Atlanta newspaper article, the summer of 1923 was a good one for revivals. The Reverend J. Frank Snell led a Methodist revival at Ray City, GA; he had just completed two years as pastor of the Ray City Methodist Church. Reverend Albert Giddens and Reverend J.D. Poindexter led the Baptist revival at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.

Atlanta Constitution
August 24, 1923 Pg 7


Milltown, Ga., August 23. — (special.)–The revival meeting season is still on in this section.
Rev, W. Harvey Wages, pastor of the local Baptist church, is conducting a revival meeting at Good Hope church in the southern part of Lanier county, near Naylor. Rev. Roy Powell, of Nashville, Ga., is the pastor of this church. The meeting began last Saturday and will go on through this week.
 Rev. J. Frank Snell, local Methodist pastor, closed a ten-day revival at Bridges Chapel, in East Lanier, Sunday night, in which he was assisted by Rev. G. C. Powell, of Sparks.
 Rev Albert Giddens, pastor, and Rev. J.D. Poindexter, both of Nashville, closed a two weeks’ revival at Beaver Dam Baptist church at Ray City Sunday night. Sixteen were baptized Sunday afternoon.
A revival service began Wednesday night at the Methodist church in Ray City. The pastor, Rev. J. Frank Snell, will be assisted by Rev. W.A. Tyson, of Swainsboro.
 Rev. W.D. Reburn, of Remerton, is assisting Rev. J. Ed Fain, of Omega, in a meeting at Leila church, in Colquitt county.
 Rev. E. Harvey Wages, of Milltown, pastor of the Stocktown Baptist church, and Rev. W.D. Raburn, of Remerton, pastor of the Stockton Methodist church, plan to hold a union revival in the schoolhouse at Stockton about the middle of September, each pastor preaching a week, the meeting continuing for two weeks.
 This is a small town, and the churches feel they are unable to support separate meetings and this plan was devised.

Related posts:

Ray City, GA Home of James Lacy Moore

James Lacy Moore (1879-1949), who served as Mayor in the 1940s, lived at several Ray City addresses over the years.  In 1910,  J. Lacy Moore and his family lived in a house on Jones Street.  Their neighbors were Lorenzo D. Carter, and Benjamin Palmer.

At the time he registered for the draft for World War I, Moore gave his permanent address as Rural Free Delivery Route 1 (RFD-1), Ray City, GA. By the time of the 1920 census, the Moores had a farm place on the Valdosta and Ray City Road next to the farm of his parents, James Burton Moore and Rachel Shaw Moore.  Lacy Moore was farming there on his own account.  In 1930, Lacy and Hattie Moore were living in town in Ray City; they owned a home valued at $2500.

After the 1930s Lacy and Hattie Moore owned a Ray City home on the south side of Main Street between Martin Lane and Cat Creek.  Their son, Ferris Moore, lived in the house next door to the west.  To the east were the homes of June McGee and his mother Mary Jane Bostick McGee.

Home of James Lacy Moore. Main Street, Ray City, Georgia.

Home of James Lacy Moore. <br> Main Street, Ray City, Georgia.

The Fraudulent Enlistment and Honorable Discharge of Virgil Clarence Sirmans

Virgil Clarence Sirmans was born February 16, 1900 in Milltown, GA the son of Mary Langdale and Benjamin Franklin Sirmans. 

 In 1918, during World War I,  he was living in Ray City GA.  He traveled to Ft.  Oglethorpe, GA where on July 15, 1918 he enlisted as a private in the Regular Army.  He was 18 years old.

His service record shows that he was in the Infantry but was never assigned to a unit.  He was discharged after about 10 weeks, on Oct 1, 1918, with the notations, “Fraudulent Enlistment” and the further comment:

“Remarks: Under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved March 2, 1929. (Public #950-70th Congress), in the administration of any laws conferring rights, privileges or benefits, upon honorably discharged soldiers, their widows and dependent children, the above named soldier shall hereafter be held and considered to have been honorably discharged October 1, 1918.”

More Sirmans  family history can be viewed at http://raycity.pbworks.com but the question remains:

What was the “fraudulent enlistment”  that was serious enough to cause the discharge of Virgil Clarence Sirmans, but forgivable enough that he was retroactively granted an Honorable Discharge?

James Lacy Moore ~ Mayor of Ray City, GA 1942-1944

James Lacy Moore (1879 – 1949) was born on October 6, 1879 in Berrien County, GA,  the son of John Burton Moore and Rachel Shaw.

At the age of 21 he married  28-year-old Harriet Augusta “Hattie” Swindle.  Lacy and Hattie Moore made Ray City their lifelong home.

Most of his life Lacy Moore worked on a farm, although in 1910 he was working as a meat market salesman.  One of his farm hands was James Cornelius Lester. He was a short, slender man with blue eyes and dark hair.

In 1942, J. Lacy Moore was elected Mayor of Ray City, Georgia.


James Lacy Moore. Mayor of Ray City, GA. 1942-1944

James Lacy Moore. Mayor of Ray City, GA. 1942-1944

Related Posts:


Harriet Swindle Moore ~ First Lady of Ray City

Harriet “Hattie” Swindle Moore was First Lady of Ray City, GA from 1942-1944, during her husband’s term of office as Mayor.

Born on the day after Christmas, December 26,  1871, Harriet Swindle  was a daughter of  James Henry Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker.

Harriet Swindle and sister, Martha Ada Swindle, image detail from a photo taken in

Harriet Swindle (left) and sister, Martha Ada Swindle (right), image detail from a photo taken in front of the Swindle home place about two miles from Ray’s Mill (nka Ray City), Georgia, probably taken around 1890.

Harriet married James Lacy Moore on September 12, 1900 in Berrien County, GA.  The wedding was performed by  Elder  Aaron A. Knight.

Harriet Swindle and James Lacy Moore, Marriage License, September 12, 1900, Berrien County, GA. They were lifelong residents of Ray City, GA.

Related posts:

Mary Swindle Won $10 in Contest to Choose Name of Ray City

In a 1971 newspaper article, Henry A. Swindle, who was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA, recalled  how the town got its name. Henry  was  a boy when the town became incorporated in 1909.  His father, Redding D. Swindle,  served as the appointed mayor until the first elections could be held.

Henry Alexander Swindle, son of R. D. and Mary Etta Swindle, orn September 15, 1897. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation www.berriencountyga.com

Henry Alexander Swindle, son of R. D. and Mary Etta Swindle, orn September 15, 1897. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw and the Berrien Historical Foundation http://www.berriencountyga.com

The first residents  decided to hold a contest to select a new name for the town.  Henry’s mother, Mary Etta Swindle, came up with the winning entry.

She won $10,” he said, “for naming the town. There were many families around here named Ray, and since this was a thriving community, bigger then than Nashville or Lakeland, she thought  Ray City would be a good name. It was formerly Ray’s Mill.

“There was a sawmill and lumber mill here that employed about 300 people and a big cotton gin that baled lost of cotton.  Ray City was growing fast then, I was a good, big boy then and I’m 74 now. But Nashville was the county seat, and that town outgrew Ray City finally.”

Children of Mary Etta and Redding D. Swindle:

  1. Eula Swindle, born 1887; married Lawrence Cauley Hall
  2. Rozzie P Swindle, born 1889–
  3. Matie Swindle, born 1890–
  4. Daisy Swindle, born 1894–
  5. Henry Alexander Swindle, born 1897; married Ora Kathleen Knight
  6. Myrtle J Swindle, born 1900–
  7. Dewey L Swindle, born 1903–

Henry A. Swindle took a job as bookkeeper for J.J. Parks, who operated a grist mill and ginnery in Ray City and a farm in Alapaha. Henry married Ora Kathleen Knight, daughter of Sullivan J. Knight and Eliza Allen. He became a strong supporter of the Ray City Methodist Church and served on the Ray City School board.

Related Posts:

Jewel Wood and Ray City’s Victory Soda Shop

Jewel Wood worked in the Victory Soda Shop in down town Ray City, Georgia. She was hired in 1943 by Ralph Gaskins, the shop’s original owner, and was employed there for more than 40 years.

In its heyday the Victory Soda Shop was one of the best known  landmarks of Ray City.  It was located in a brick commercial building on the corner of Main Street and  Street. The shop was a popular gathering spot for local citizens, and once boasted the town’s only telephone.

 In a 1984 newspaper article Wood reflected, “I was there when they first had fountain drinks. They provided special glasses with marks to show you where to put the syrup, the soda, and the ice.  The brass cash register is still there, the five and one cent keys all but worn out from the days when coffee was a nickel and candy was a penny.”  Besides the obligatory soda fountain offerings, she served the patrons quick fare like hamburgers and hotdogs. The Victory Soda Shop’s hand squeezed lemonade was widely regarded as the best in the area.  In the early days, she knew all the customers by name. One any given day, you could expect to find the town’s old timers, pundits and sages gathered around a table swapping yarns, offering advice, or analyzing current events over a cup of coffee.

From behind the counter, Jewel Wood saw Ray City change with the times.  With the triumph of the Allies in World War II, the little shop earned its name. In the Sixties, the Civil Rights movement ended the segregation of the shop’s clientel. Later, the construction of Interstate 75 meant less traffic passing through town, but the local fame of the Victory Soda Shop would still draw the occasional visitor from the highway.

Over the years the shop had different owners.  Billy Clements was the proprietor for many years.  In 1984 it was owned by Jewel Wood’s son, Johnnie Wayne Wood.  The Victory Soda Shop is closed now, although the brick building where it was located still stands, the last remaining commercial brick building in Ray City.

 A previous Ray City History post included a newspaper photo Victory Soda Shop ~ Ray City, GA 

Brian Brown  provides a photograph of the building that once was home to the Victory Soda Shop at

Related Posts:


WWI Boom for Clements Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

About 1911  Levi J. Clements,  purchased the big sawmill at Ray City, GA from W.F. Luckie and it became the Clements Lumber Company.   The Clements Family had some experience in the sawmill business. The Clements brothers, Lucius J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements, operated the mill; Lucius served as the General Manager.

World War I brought an economic boom for the Clements’ sawmill operations.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

During World War I, Southern yellow pine was the most abundant of all ship materials and was extensively used in building wood ships along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.

At first the war reduced the market for southern pine lumber, as European markets were closed and the German navy threatened North Atlantic trade. But as War hysteria grew, lumber became a strategic material. By 1917 the U.S. Shipping Board began discussing the construction of  wooden cargo ships to support the war effort.  The price of lumber rose sharply during the war, nearly doubling from 1915 to 1918.4

Lucius J. Clements continued to serve as General Manager at the Clements sawmill, although on September 19,1918, at the age of 37,  he diligently registered for the draft for World War I along with other Ray City men. His cousin, Hod P. Clements had registered a year earlier.

In a 1973 newspaper interview, Hod P. Clements, reflected on the boom World War I, brought to the Clements Sawmill and his relatives L.J. Clements, J.I. Clements, and J.S. Clements.7

 “When World War I broke out, the Clements’ boys, who are my cousins, sold lumber to the government to build ships, and made about half a million dollars,” he said.

According to Clements, the price of lumber rose from $8 a thousand feet to $120 a thousand feet in a year.

Related Posts:

  1. Fondren-Clements Papers; transcribed by Ronald E. Yates 8/17/2009) http://www.yatesville.net/tngrey/getperson.php?personID=I4423&tree=01
  2. Nashville Herald. Feb 6, 1923.. Clements Lbr Company sold out at Ray City. Nashvillle Herald, Nashville, GA. pg 1.
  3. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  4. Ships to Nowhere: The Southern Yellow Pine Fleet of World War I Thomas D. Clark Journal of Forest History, Vol. 30, No. 1 (Jan., 1986), pp. 4-16 Published by: Forest History Society and American Society for Environmental History Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4004755
  5. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Card. Lucius J. Clements. Registration Location: Berrien County, Georgia; Roll: 1556961; Draft Board: 0. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration.
  6. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1920. T625, 2,076 rolls. Census location: Rays Mill, Berrien, Georgia; Roll: T625_235; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 22; Image: 288.
  7. Valdosta Times. 1973. Newspaper clipping. “Natives of Ray City Like to talk about the past.”
  8. Davis, C. G., Clarke, T. W., Drown, F. S., & United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation. (1918). The building of a wooden ship. Philadelphia, Pa: Industrial Service Section, United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp..

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