Wiregrass pioneers first began settling in the immediate vicinity of present day Ray City, GA about 1825. After Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray built a mill pond and grist mill here in the 1860s, the community came to be known as Rays Mill. In 1909, the community was officially incorporated as the town of Rays Mill, GA. But soon the people came to desire that their city should not be known as just another “mill town.”
As noted in previous posts, a contest was held to select a new name for the town and the winning entry was Ray City.
In 1915, the state and federal government recognized the official designation of the town as Ray City, GA. U.S. Representative John Randall Walker, of Valdosta, was instrumental in effecting the name change with the Postal Service.
The Nashville Herald, front page, Friday, October 15, 1915
RAYS MILL IS NOW RAY CITY
POSTMASTER GENERAL HAS AGREED TO CHANGE IN NAME OF TOWN
Congressman J. Randal Walker has succeeded in having the post office department recognize the name Ray City as the new name for Rays Mill. An order has been passed by the department, according to an announcement made today by Mr. Walker that hereafter the progressive Berrien county town shall be known by the name of Ray City.
At the last session of the Georgia legislature the charter of Rays Mill was so amended as to change the name to Ray City. The people there were very much elated over the change in the name as they were very anxious that the change be made. They were, however, considerably depressed, when they found that the postoffice department would not recognize the new name. A delegation immediately waited upon Congressman Walker to ask his aid in having the department recognize the change and Mr. Walker at once set the proper machinery in motion to have the postoffice officials see to it that the name was changed to Ray City. As a result of his efforts the town is now known as Ray City. All parties who have mail to go to that place will do well to address it to Ray City, Ga., and residents of that place are anxious that all persons use the new name in speaking of the town.
Two or three delegations were in Valdosta yesterday from different parts of the Eleventh congressional district, to confer with Congressman J. Randal Walker on various matters of local importance. One delegation was from Alma, Ga. This delegation consisted of Hon. L.P. Taylor, Messrs. N.N. Pearson, C.L. Sibley and O.F. Reines. They were here in the interest of Mr. G.M. Hudson, who is an applicant for postmaster at Alma.
Another delegation consisted of Hon. A.J. Herrington, Editor Otto Middleton and Mr. Swain from Hazlehurst. They were here in the interest of Mr. J.H. Brown for postmaster at that place. – Valdosta Times.
–transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker
- Mary Swindle Won $10 in Contest to Choose Name of Ray City (raycityhistory.wordpress.com)
- Ray’s Mill Hotel Burns, 1915
- Autoists Escape Death in 1915 Cyclone at Rays Mill, Georgia