According to early land title documents the land that now constitutes a significant portion of Ray City, GA was once owned in part by Thomas M. Ray. T.M. Ray, along with his father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, founded Rays Mill.
The Last Will and Testament of Thomas M. Ray directed that ” all my property of every sort and kind be kept together and managed by executors upon the plan and fashion as nearly as possible that I have lately managed it for a term of ten years, at the expiration of which time executors are hereby directed to expose every parcel of property that may then belong to the estate at public sale, and the proceeds from said sale be equally divided among my legal heirs that may then be living, or their representatives if any, and they be dead.” “I hereby constitute and appoint my son in law H.H. Knight and my son Thos. M. Ray, to qualify and act when he becomes of age and my worth friend William Roberts executors of this my last will and testament. This May 31, st, 1876.”
Thomas M. Ray died just a few days later, June 14, 1876. In accordance with his will, his land was tied up in the estate for the next 10 years, including Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 in the 10th land district which were owned jointly by William Roberts and T.M. Ray.
Subsequent court documents show:
“At the April term 1879 Thos. M. Ray [Jr.] filed his petition to the Court oy Ordinary of Berrien County, Ga. showing that he had been duly appointed executor of the last will and testament of his father Tho’s M. Ray, and that he had reached the age of 21 years, and asking that he be appointed executor under the said will. Whereupon the Court directed that he be appointed executor as prayed.”
“H.H. Knight and Tho’s M. Ray [Jr.], as the duly and legally qualified Exrs. under the last will and testament of Tho’s M. Ray, applied to the Court of Ordinary of Berrien county, setting forth that under the terms of the said Will that all of the lands and property belonging to said estate should be sold, and praying that leave be granted to them to sell the said lands etc. Citation was ordered issued and published in terms of the law, Oct, term, 1886, of the Court of Ordinary of Berrien County.”
“At the November term 1886 of the Court of Ordinary of Berrien County an order was granted by said Court, reciting that it appearing to the Court that said citation had issued and been published as the law required that the said executors be granted leave to sell the land etc.”
With the estate cleared to sell, William Roberts sold out his interest in Land Lots 422, 423, 451, and 452 to James Swindle on November 18th, 1886, receiving the amount of $10,029. 70 in consideration. In today’s dollars, this would have been about $12.1 million dollars.
Nine years later, in 1895, James Swindle transferred 150 acres of this land to his son, James S. Swindle. The warranty deed stated that the value received in consideration was “Love and Affection,” and described the property “to wit: One hundred and fifty (150) acres, more or less, being part of lot of land number 423, and bounded as follows; 10th Dist of Berrien County, Ga. Commencing at the North end of the Dam known as the Card Gin Dam and running North to a branch known as the Davis branch thence down said branch to Cat creek, thence down said Cat creek to lands of H.H. Knight, thence running East along said H.H. Knight land to starting point.”
The Swindle land encompassed virtually all of present day Ray City lying north of Beaver Dam Creek. “That along in the 1880’s, it was owned and possessed by one James Swindle, and that James Swindle sold the same to his son James S. Swindle, and that James S. Swindle sold that part of the land…to Chas. X. Jones, with several other acres of the land, and that in the year 1908 the said tract was cut up into town lots, by the surveyor of Berrien County, T.I. Griffin, and platted for the Town of Raysmill, and that the said town of Rays mill, afterwards became incorporated as the town of Ray City, Ga.”
- 1915 – Rays Mill Becomes Ray City
- Dr. Charles X. Jones ~ Ray City’s First Elected Mayor
- Henry Harrison Knight Among Earliest Teachers in Berrien County
- James Swindle ~ Wiregrass Pioneer