Two Men Hanged in Clinch County

The public hanging of  Bob McCoy and Willie Hicks occurred on April 3, 1890 in  Homerville, Clinch County, Georgia.   The two men were tried and convicted of the double axe murder of William Hughes and Ellen Sellers Rice Hughes,  an elderly couple of Dupont, GA.  The story of the murders and the pursuit of the killers were reported in newspapers from New York to California .

As told in the previous posts the Hughes were the grandparents of Creasy Brown Woods, of Rays Mill, GA.  The murders, trial, and hangings occurred when Creasy was about twelve years old.

Robert McCoy was apprehended at Live Oak,  Florida by Sheriff Gottschalk “Gus” Potsdamer, who was himself an ex-convict, having been sentenced and later pardoned for the  murder of another sheriff.  William Hicks was arrested after a knife fight in Jasper, Florida.

The Waycross Reporter
Saturday, December 21, 1889, Pg 2

The Hughes Murderers

     Two of the Hughes murderers, William Hicks and Robert McCoy, are now in the Clinch County jail, and it is thought at Dupont that the other murderer, Robert Saxton, will be produced as soon as Governor Gordon offers a reward for him.
Hicks and McCoy were both captured by accident, as it were—that is to say, they were arrested for other crimes, and from a sense of guilt confessed their complicity in the Hughes murder.
Hicks was in Jasper, Florida, one night, and got into a cutting affray at a Negro candy pulling, and was arrested by Constable William Hinton, to whom he confessed.
Robert McCoy went to Live Oak after killing Hughes, and was arrested there by Sheriff Pottsdamer, for carrying concealed weapons.  He said to Pottsdamer, “You have arrested me for something else than carrying a gun, and can’t fool me in this way.”  “What else?” asked Pottsdamer.  “For the Hughes murder,” replied McCoy.  “And I was not by myself in that thing.  Robert Saxton and Bill Hicks helped me.”
A curious coincidence in the matter is that Sheriff Pottsdamer, Constable Hinton, and John P. Lanier had been trying for a couple of weeks to ferret out the criminals, and by accident two of them almost fell bodily into the hands of their hunters.
Sheriff Dickerson, of Clinch County, in the mean time, had sent to Atlanta for a detective named Moyett, and he was working what he considered a good clew at Dupont, where Lanier was also working a cold trail.  Moyett finally lost his trail, and tried to canter into Lanier’s.  The two clashed, had hard words, and came almost to blows.  Moyett then, so Lanier charges, accused Lanier and Hinton of having the murderers spotted, and conspiring with others to wait until a reward should be offered, when they would produce the murderers, and on this statement, Sheriff Dickerson telegraphed the governor not to offer a reward.
It is further alleged that when the news that Hinton had captured Hicks at Jasper reached Dupont, detective Moyett hurried on to Jasper, and offered Hinton $200.00 cash to take him into co-partnership in the capture and information gotten by Hicks’ confession, saying that he would use his influence in Atlanta to induce the governor to offer a large reward for the other two implicated by Hicks.  But Hinton declined the offer with thanks.  Moyett then threatened to use that same influence to prevent any reward ever being offered.
This but confirms what has often been said before—that the average professional detective is usually as unscrupulous and rascally as the criminal he seeks.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, but Moyett does not appear to be one of them.

The Waycross Reporter
Saturday, March 8, 1890,  Page 2

To Stretch Hemp

    The two Negroes, who brutally murdered old man Hughes and his wife in Clinch County sometime ago, were tried for the murder at Homerville this week.
The courthouse was packed all day.  The case of the prisoners was ably and ingeniously managed by three counsel, but the evidence offered by the state was conclusive, and left no room for doubt of guilt.  The defendants themselves in making their statements, told a most blood curdling narrative of the heinous assassination; how Robert Saxton, who has since been shot and killed while resisting arrest, cam to them stating that a certain white man had agreed to pay him $35 to shoot his cousin, Orin Register, a highly respected citizen of Clinch County, and induced them to go with him to do the murder; they travelled on, and, coming to the plantation of Mr. Hughes, Saxton proposed to murder the old people and rob the house, as he knew they had some money.
All consented, and upon the pretense of desiring to buy a lunch came into the yard, and with an ax literally beat out the brains of the deceased and then plundered the house and made their escape, after dividing up the money and plunder.  During the trial each was proven to have made at the time of their arrest free and voluntary confessions of their guilt.  The jury after being out only a short time returned a verdict of guilty as to both defendants.
On Thursday Judge Atkinson pronounced the death sentence on the two men.  They are to be hung on Friday—.”

The Macon Weekly Telegraph, March 12, 1890

The Macon Weekly Telegraph, March 12, 1890

The Macon Weekly Telegraph
March 12, 1890


Negro Murderers of Mr. and Mrs. Hughes Convicted.

McCoy and Hicks to Swing in Clinch.
April 3-They Confessed in Court
 – Story of the Murderof the Hughes.

Valdosta, March 7. -Special.)- Hicks and McCoy, the negroes who murdered Mr. and Mrs. Hughes in Clinch county last fall, were found guilty in Clinch superior court yesterday and sentenced to hang on April 3.

    The case was called Wednesday. The court appointed attorneys for the defense, and all the testimony which could be obtained  was examined before the court and jury, and at the conclusion when the prisoners rose to make their statement they both made a confession of the crime.  Their attorneys plead for the mercy of the court. Judge Atkinson pronounced sentence upon them on Thursday morning last, and they both will hang.
   There were open threats of lynching during the court and the trial of the prisoners, but the citizens of Clinch county wisely determined to let the punishment for the crime proceed in its legal and orderly way.


   A full account of the crime for which these negroes are to hang was published in the TELEGRAPH last fall. Briefly retold it is as follows:
    The murder at first was enveloped in mystery. Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, two old people living a few miles from DuPont, alone, were found one morning brutally butchered with some instrument of death, evidently an axe.  Their premises had benn robbed, and the murderers and despoilers had fled, leaving no evidence of their identity.  By an accident a month later two of the participants in this crime were arrested under a trivial charge at Jasper, Fla.  Without inquiring into the causes of his arrest, Will Hicks said to Marshal Hinton that he knew why he had been arrested and he might as well make a clean breast of it.


   He proceeded then to make a confession of his part in the murder of the Hughes family and implicated Bob McCoy and Robert Saxon.  McCoy, who was captured at the same time, also made a confession.  When the crime was committed Saxon did not go to Florida with Hicks and McCoy, but fled to the solitude of the pine forest in Wilcox county, in this state. After remaining therer some weeks and feeling secure he wrote a letter under an assumed name to his paramour at Cat Creek, this county [Lowndes], wherein he virtually confessed his connection in the crime. The dusky female could not read the letter and called upon a male relative to read it for her.


    This relative had no sympathy with Saxon in his terrible crime, and reported his whereabouts to a white man neighbor.  There being a reward for his capture, the two armed themselves at once and went to Wilcox county to capture him.  They found him but Saxon took the chances of fight, an was fatally shot. He was brought to the Valdosta jail, confessed his crime and died.
    The negroes in their confessions implicated a white man in the crime,but no evidence could be found connecting him with the crime.

The Waycross Reporter
Saturday, March 8, 1890. Page 2

The Two Murderers

    I have been interviewing the condemned criminals that Judge Atkinson has just passed the sentence of death upon, and are to hang April 5th next, at Homerville.  I inquired into their early life and habits.  In a room closely guarded near the Courthouse I found the prisoners.
    The polite guards, as soon as they knew that I wanted some facts for publication, gave me permission to come in and talk with them.
    Will Hicks is twenty-one years of age, was born in Perry, Georgia, where his father now lives.  He has been in this section of the state about four years, and was mainly engaged in turpentine work.  He cannot read.
    Robert McCoy, was born in Sumter County, South Carolina.  He is 19 years old, can read a little, and once belonged to the church, but when he came out to this state, he soon drifted with the tide of evil so prevalent on these turpentine farms.
    Both of these Negroes are of the deepest African type, the animal showing in their faces and heads as predominating over the intellectual.  Indeed, so deep is their depravity that they seem to be under a stupefying influence that is altogether satanic.  They do not realize their danger, being ignorant of the law.  They were the willing dupes of Saxton, a mulatto of some shrewdness, and much of the demoniac in his mental make up.  In my interview with these doomed men I elicited as the prime cause of their terrible crime these three things: whiskey, cards, and bad company.  Let it be emphasized, and let all men, black and white, know that these are three of the most prominent steps to the gallows.  Let the young men, especially, take warning.  Because everyman that drinks, plays cards, and keeps bad company is on the road to the gallows, and will get there sooner or later, unless he stops or takes another road.
    The sentence, as passed by Judge Atkinson, was so impressive, that in breathless awe the full house of hearers stood as if transfixed for the time being.

 Atlanta Constitution
April 4, 1890


The Murderer of Old Man Hughes Pays the Penalty.

The Assassins Meet Their Fate With Dogged Indifference – The Story of Their Crime and Subsequent Capture.

Waycross, Ga., April 3. -[Special.]- Robert McCoy and Will Hicks, colored, were hanged publicly at Homerville today, for the murder of William Hughes and wis wife.  The drop fell at 1:03.  They died in fourteen minutes from strangulation.


Both men confessed the brutal crime which they had committed, and died game.  They both passed their last night on earth as though nothing was to transpire on the morrow.  After a meagre breakfast they chatted cheerfully and passed the forenoon in singing and praying.  At dinner their menu consisted of a cup of coffee and biscuit.  About 4,000 followed the procession to the gallows.


    The murder which they expiated today was one of the most cold-blooded in the catalogue of crime.  They were hired to kill other parties, and while en route to do their dastardly work, ascertained that Mr. Hughes was known to keep considerable money in the house, and they decided that it would be more lucrative to murder the Hughes family instead.
    They lingered around the premises until evening, and quietly approached the house, found the old lady in the kitchen when she was most cruelly murdered with an ax, and then leaving the kitchen, they met the husband at the gate, and served him similarly.  The ax with which this atrocious crime was committed is still on exhibition.  It was not until the following morning that the murdered bodies were discovered.


Robert Saxton, a third party who aided in this inhuman act, was killed while resisting arrest, thus cheating the gallows of what he deserved.

The Bloody Story: 1889 Murder of the Hughes Family in Clinch County

As told in the previous post the grandparents of Creasy Brown Woods, of Rays Mill, GA, were murdered in 1889 in Clinch County when Creasy was twelve years old.  Her grandparents were William Hughes and Ellen Sellers Rice Hughes.  Sensational stories of their brutal murder and the subsequent capture of the killers ran in the Atlanta Constitution and in newspapers from coast to coast.

Atlanta Constitution
November 18, 1889  Page 2


Arrest of  Three Men Suspected of Complicity in a Double Murder.

Waycross, Ga., November 17.  -(Special.)- Your correspondent learned in an interview with J. H. Morratt of J. H. Morratt & Co.’s detective agency of Atlanta, who arrived here today from Dupont, and who has been employed by Sheriff Dickinson and the county authorities of Clinch to work up the Hughes double murder case, that the following parties are under arrest:  Robert McCoy, at Live Oak, Fla.;  William Hicks, at Jasper, and Robert Baxter, at Valdosta, Ga.  The only clew he had to work on the case was telegram from McCoy to Ed. Ferrell, of Dupont, dated Jasper, as follows:
    “Is you got any money? If you aint I got lots.”
    Upon being questioned, Ferrell gave the whole plot away, thereby enabling Detective Morratt in securing the evidence to prove the guilt of the now arrested parties. On the persons of the arrested parties were found several hundred dollars, along with the gun and pair of shoes which were identified as the property of the murdered couple.
    Robert McCoy gave a voluntary statement, implicating himself and his other two pals in their bloody deeds.  The parties on the night of the murder made good their escape under the cover of darkness by walking to the first station and taking the first train to Jasper, and they divided and were arrested in the different places as described above.
    As soon as a requisition can be obtained they will be removed to Dupont for trial.  Daniel Harper and Henry Johnson, who were previously arrested, charged with with the above murder, have been set at Liberty.  The evidence against the parties now in custody prove their guild beyond a doubt.  Detective Morratt returned to Atlanta on this afternoon’s train very much gratified with his success.

Atlanta Constitution
November 28, 1889  Page 2


McCay and Hicks Certainly the Guilty Parties.

Valdosta, Ga., November 27 -(Special.) Sheriff Dickinson, of Clinch county, came up at noon today with Robert McCay and Wm. Hicks, the murderers of old man Hughes and his wife.  The negroes are undoubtedly the guilty parties, and the two negroes, who were in jail charged with the crime, were set free.  McCay and Hicks both made full and fee confession of the crime, and state that another negro named Sexton helped carry out the double murder and theft.  Sexton is  a yellow negro with large teeth, on or two of which is missing.  He is supposed to be in middle Georgia, and a liberal reward is offered for him.

Atlanta Constitution
December 6, 1889 Page 5


Of The Murder Of The Hughes Family In Clinch.

Robert McCoy and Will Hicks Tell the Full Story of the Murder of the Old Couple, and the Motive.

Valdosta, Ga., December 5. -[Special.]- The Times gives the confession of Robert McCoy and Will Hicks, who acknowledges the murder of the Hughes family.  Hicks owns that he killed the old man and says that Robert Saxton killed the old lady.  Saxton is still at large.
    Hicks and another negro got into a shooting scrape at Jasper over a game of cards, and in the melee a negro woman got shot.  The other negro was captured in the town, but Hicks skipped out in the direction of Live Oak.  Marshal Hinton got on a horse and galloped around by a private road and got ahead of him four miles below Jasper, and waited awhile for his game, and then took him in.  He was carried back to Jasper and lodged in jail. Hinton found out that Hicks had considerable money, and by a series of questions drew a confession out of him.  He also gave the other two away, and said that McCoy was in Live Oak and Saxton was in Valdosta.  McCoy, finding that Hicks had given the whole matter away, also made a confession.  He had Mr. Hughes’s shoes on his feet at the time of his capture.  They led their captors to a place four miles from Jasper, and showed them where they had hidden Mr. Hughes’s gun.  They also went to a point near Mr. Hughes’s residence and showed them where they had thrown the satchel which contained the money and notes.  The notes were still in the satchel when found.


    Hicks and McCoy say that Saxton came to them where they were at work in Echols county, and told them that he had a job for them in which there was some money.  Hicks agreed to go, but McCoy objected at first, but at length agreed.  They went with Saxton to a white man’s house near Statenville.  They did not know his name.  Saxton and the white man stepped aside and had a long talk.  Coming back Saxton said to the white man that he need not fear to talk before Hicks and McCoy, that they “were all right.”  The white man told them to go on with Saxton and do the work and then to come back, that he had twenty-five dollars for them.  He said that he would put a piece of paper on the top of the fence where they were standing, and when they had done the work and returned they must take the paper and put it under the fence and then go down in the swamp near by and remain there until he came to them, which he would do as soon as he had discovered that the paper had been moved, and he would bring them their money.


    They were to go over into Clinch county and kill Mr. Orin Register, who lived near Mr. Hughes.
    When on the way to Mr. Register’s they met Mr. and Mrs. Hughes in the road near their house hauling some water in barrels for their hogs.
    When they had passed the old people, Saxton said to the other two that those old folks had money, and they could kill them with less danger to themselves and get more money than they would for the killing of Register.  This new scheme took at once, and they dismissed Register and set about the new work then in hand.

Atlanta Constitution
December 22, 1889


Which Gave Away the Location of the Murderer.

Saxon, Who Was Concerned in the Slaughter of the Hughes Family, Run Down in Wilcox County, and is Now in Jail.

    Valdosta, Ga., December 21. -[Special.]- Soon after the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Hughes, in Clinch county, an account of which was printed in THE CONSTITUTION at the time, two of the murderers were arrested in Florida, and were lodged in the jail at this place.


    Today the other one, Robert Saxton, was brought in.  He had two bullets in his back, put there by the good had of Mr. J. M. Maltres, of this county.  When the officers closed in on the trio at Jasper, Saxton escaped and made his way to Wilcox county in this state.  Several days ago he wrote to a negro woman in this county, to inquire about the fate of his abettors in the crime, and he directed her to address her answer to Henry Williams, at Sibbie, Wilcox county. The woman could not read, and she went to Mr. Maltres to read it for her, and thus he got Saxon’s secret.  There was a reward for Saxon, and Mr. Maltres went for it.  He went to Wilcox county and follow Saxon several days.  He came upon him finally near the Ocmulgee river.  Saxon fled when called upon to surrender, but two bullets from Maltres’s pistol called him to a halt. The wounds are serious, and may prove fatal.

Creasy Brown Woods buried at Dupont, GA

An old newspaper clipping reported the passing of Creasy Brown Wood, wife of George W. Wood.

Nashville Herald
Friday October 13, 1911

Death of Mrs. G. W. Woods

Mrs. G. W. Woods died at her home near Rays Mill, Tuesday evening, October 10, at 2:30 o’clock, after an illness of about six weeks.
    Mrs. Woods was a well known lady and was loved by all who knew her.  She was about thirty years of age.  She leaves a husband and five children, besides her brothers and sisters, to mourn her death. Her remains were carried to DuPont for burial.
    Mrs. Woods bade her husband and loved ones good-bye before she died.
    Her bereaved husband has the sympathy of many friends.

“May he and she in Heaven meet,
Cast their crowns at Jesus’ feet.”
                         – A Friend

The Herald extends its deep sympathy to Mr. Woods in the loss of his wife.

Creasy Brown Wood was buried at North Cemetery – Dupont, GA  near her parents, grandparents, and many others of her family connections rest.

Grave marker for Creasy Brown Wood, Wife of George W. Wood, North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

Grave marker for Creasy Brown Wood, Wife of George W. Wood, North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

Creasy Brown, born 14 Aug 1877, was the daughter of Sarah M. Hughes (22 Jan 1847 – 19 Jan 1904)  and James Brown (15 Sep 1828  –  15 Aug 1900)  of DuPont, Clinch County, GA.  In the census of 1900, Creasy was enumerated in her parents’ household in the 1280 District of Clinch county, where they were neighbors of Otis Mikell, subject of earlier posts (Ola Crews and Otis Mikell)

The graves of Creasy Brown’s maternal grandparents bear an unusual inscription –  MURDERED.  When Creasy was twelve years old her grandparents were brutally murdered at their home in Dupont, GA.

Atlanta Constitution
November 9, 1889 pg 2


A Double Murder in Clinch County, Georgia.

An Old Man and His Wife Found Dead on Their Premises – Excitement of the Affair.

    Valdosta, Ga., November 8. -(Special)- A most horrible and brutal double murder has just come to light from Clinch county.  The victims were an old man 78 years of age, and his aged wife.  The murderers are supposed to be negroes.  It is supposed that the murder was committed late Wednesday evening, but was not discovered till yesterday evening, some twenty-four hours later.  Mr. Hughes and wife lived seven miles south of Dupont by themselves.  They were good citizens and had raised a large family of respectable sons and daughters, who had grown up and left home.  One of the boys rides the mail from Dupont to Dames’ mill, and the route goes by the old man’s house. On Wednesday morning last, young Hughes stopped a few minutes to see the old folks, and the old gentleman told him that three negroes, a mulatto and two blacks, had been dodging about his place in a suspicious manner.  They called, ostensibly, for water, and inquired if anyone lived with him and his wife. They then disappeared, and later when he went in the woods to cut some posts, Mr. Hughes came up on them lying behind some logs.  On the return of young Hughes, later in the day, he stopped again, and found his parents safe and all right. He supposed the negroes were likely after pilfering, and did not give the matter much further thought. On Thursday afternoon two of Mr. Hughes’s grandsons, Thadeus Hughes and Jimmie Rice, young lads, went to spend the night with the old people, and when they entered the yard they found their grandfather laying near the steps dead.
    They immediately fled and carried the news to the nearest neighbors. A crowd soon gathered, and when they returned to the old peoples’ residence they found the old lady also dead in the kitchen. She had evidently been killed first, while the old man was probably in the lot feeding his stock. She was preparing supper, and had some raw meat in a bowl in her hand when the fatal blow was struck with an ax from behind. She fell upon her face and the bowl broke as she fell, and another lick on the back of her head shattered her roach-comb and crushed in the skull.  The old man was met or overtaken in the front yard and dealt two blows which crushed his skull and killed him immediately.  The bloody ax which did the work was found leaning against the plazza not ten steps from where the old man lay.  Mr. Hughes is supposed to have had over two hundred dollars in his trunk, which was found out in the yard, broken open and rifled. The people in the neighborhood are greatly excited about the affair, and every effort will be made to hunt down the red-handed villains, but they got twenty-four or thirty-six hours the start if they left the country as soon as the crime was committed. Sheriff Dickerson has offered a reward for the murderers, and will use every endeavor to catch them.

Her grandparents were buried in North Cemetery – Dupont, GA.

Grave markers of William Hughs, and Ellen S. Hughs, murdered in 1889, buried at North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

Grave markers of William Hughs, and Ellen S. Hughs, murdered in 1889, buried at North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

Related Posts:

1951 Beaverettes Couldn’t Miss; Boys Went Afoul at Homerville

Basketball became a part of Ray City School athletics at least as early as 1929. For the next 25 years, with the exception of the WWII years, Ray City teams shot hoops, until the county schools were consolidated in 1954.   According to the 1950-51 school year book, the Ray City School basketball teams played a 20 game season. The boys team was coached by Principal C.W. Schmoe, with A. C. Hesters as manager.

1950-51 Beaverettes, Ray City School girls basketball team, Ray City, GA

1950-51 Beaverettes, Ray City School girls basketball team, Ray City, GA

A clipping from the Clinch County News gives the story of the December 19, 1950 game against Homerville. Among the starters for the Ray City girls were Lullene Rouse, Patricia Bradford and Betty Jo Webb. The boys starting lineup included Curtis Skinner, Jack Knight and Wendell Clements.

Clinch County News
December 22, 1950

The [Homerville] girls played way below par in the Ray City game which was evidenced by the fact that they came out way behind their opponents when the final whistle blew.  The [Homerville] forwards played a good game, but Ray City’s beaverettes didn’t seem to be able to miss no matter what the angle which gave our [Homerville] guards a run for their money.

    The boy’s game was a comedy of errors if fouls are any indication of such a thing.  There were seventy-two fouls called in this game, Ray City’s whole first string going out on fouls. The local [Homerville] boys racked up a score of 62, but if they had played their usual kind of ball the score board probably would have run out of points. The line-ups were as follows:


Pantherettes (34)

Ray City
Beaverettes (49)

Gilley, f 15
Blitch, f 9
F. Long, f 5
Newbern, g
Peagler, g
White, g

Bradford, f 9
Rouse, f 10
Webb, f 30
Barnwell, g
Futch, g
Sirmans, g

Substitutions: Homerville, O. Jeffords (2), N. Jeffords,
D.R. Thrift, Daugharty, Champion, Ann Long, and Gaskins.


Panthers (62)

Ray City
Beavers (49)

McQueen, f 7
Harper, f 21
Norris, c 10
Pickren, g 5
Hill, g 8

Moore, f 7
Skinner, f 6
Knight, c 5
Clements, g 2
Temples, g 3

Substitutions: Homerville, McDonald (9), Jones (2); 
Leviton, Minson, Rice, and Montgomery.  Ray City:
Allen (10), Williams (7),  Lee (2),  McClelland (3),
 Cornelius (4), Luke.

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA

1950-51 Beavers, Ray City School boys basketball team, Ray City, GA. The school yearbook reported, “The Beavers finished their regular season with (14) fourteen wins and (6) defeats. The Beavers were led during the season by Jack Knight with (326) points, Billy Moore with (213) points, and Wendell Clements (130) points.”

Ray City School 1950-51 Basketball Schedule

Date Opponent Girls Boys
Pine Grove L 13-35 L 12-37
Enigma L 42-48 W 70-33
11-14 H Lakeland L 29-34 W 47-17
11-17 Naylor W 48-46 W 53-32
12-01 H Alapaha L 27-36 W 58-35
12-05 A Lakeland L 19-35 W 40-31
12-08 H Nashville L 37-51 L 48-64
12-12 A Willacoochee L 25-39 W 50-9
12-15 A Clyattville L 14-30 L 44-49
12-19 A Homerville W 49-34 L 49-62
01-06 H Pine Grove L 23-37 W 36-29
01-09 A Alapaha W 37-25 W 44-27
01-12 A Nashville L 31-47 L 30-37
01-19 H Clyattville W 20-16 W 56-43
01-30 A Enigma W 43-35 W 77-25
02-02 H Naylor W 24-23 W 39-20
02-06 H Homerville L 35-51 L 45-61
Willacoochee L 14-62 W 69-14
Poplar Springs W 36-35 W 88-31
Nashville L 39-47
Tournament Scores Girls Boys
Statenville W 50-28
Clyatteville W 53-22
Dasher L 29-54
Pine Grove L 45-56

If you would like to read a little more about the history of Ray City Basketball, see the Georgia High School Basketball Project.

Thomas Jackson Crum

Thomas Jackson Crum, image detail courtesy of Berrien County Historical Foundation

Thomas Jackson Crum

A recently encountered newspaper clipping from the Clinch County News gives the obituary of  Thomas Jackson “Jack” Crum.

Jack Crum was a prominent farmer, banker, cotton merchant, and community leader.  He lived near Ray City, Georgia in that part of Berrien County that was cut into Lanier county in the 1920s.

Jack Crum was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery in Ray City.

Clinch County News
December 24, 1943

Mr. Thomas J. Crum, prominent Lanier county citizen, died at his home near Lakeland, on the 9th inst. after suffering a heart attack about twelve hours earlier. He had been about his usual business the day before dying next morning about 7 o’clock.  He was a native of Tift county and was 73 years old and a member of the county board of Education and had served as a deacon in the Ray City Baptist Church a number of years. His wife and three children survive.

Grave marker of Annie Boyette and Thomas Jackson Crum, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Annie Boyette and Thomas Jackson Crum, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Thomas Jackson Crum was  born  September 4, 1870  a  son of Amanda Melviney Willis (1850-1922) and  Benjamin Harmon Crum (1842 – 1924).  His father was a confederate veteran who volunteered with Company I, Georgia 50th Infantry Regiment. Benjamin H. Crum was captured along with Jesse Bostick (subject of previous posts (see Jesse Bostick and the Battle of Cedar Creek) and other men of the 50th Regiment  at the Battle of Cedar Creek in Virginia in 1864 and imprisoned at Point Lookout, MD. Benjamin Harmon Crum survived the war and returned to his family in Tift County.

Thomas Crum and his sister Leonia Crum married two siblings in the Boyette family.  In 1895 Thomas Crum married Annie Boyette (1873-1950), and in 1899 Leonia Crum married Jesse Thomas Boyette.  The Boyettes were children of Jemima Taylor (1842 – 1926) and William Hill Boyett (1834 – 1897) of Ray City.  Their father also was a confederate veteran who  volunteered with  Company I, Georgia 50th Infantry Regiment and was detailed as a shoemaker during the Civil war.

Left to Right: John C. Crum, Thomas Jackson Crum, Annie Boyette Crum, Lillie Crum, Benjamin Hill Crum, Nancy Della Knight Crum, Mae Crum, Mary Crum, Delilah Boyette Gaskins, and Lester Gaskins.

Thomas Jackson Crum Family at the old home place.  Left to Right: John C. Crum, Thomas Jackson Crum, Annie Boyette Crum, Lillie Crum, Benjamin Hill Crum, Nancy Della Knight Crum, Mae Crum, Mary Crum, Delilah Boyette Gaskins, and Lester Gaskins. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Foundation

Ben Hill Crum, Jr., grandson of Thomas Jackson Crum, has prepared a sketch of his grandfather’s life which appeared in the family history Crum Family of The South.  This sketch is excerpted below; those interested in further Crum family history may view the complete text at Family History Archive.

Crum Family of the South

Crum Family of the South

Thomas Jackson Crum, the son of Amanda Willis and Benjamin Crum (CSA) of Tift County, was one of the pioneer citizens of Lanier County moving here from Tift County in the early 1890s.  At that time he was a part time tombstone salesman and farm hand.
    He married Annie Boyett, daughter of the Honorable William Hill Boyett in 1895.  They had five children, the late Ben Hill Crum, Mrs Mary Robinson of Lakeland, the late Annie Mae Giddens, the late John C. Crum and Mrs Lillie Grissett of Ray City.  There were seventeen grandchildren.
    In 1906, Mr. Crum purchased land from Thomas Murphy and in 1909 purchased adjacent land from Hill Boyett making up what became the Crum Farm. This size farming operation was referred to as a “seven horse” farm.  Mr. Crum raised livestock, grew tobacco, corn and other farm products. He cured meat and bottled syrup which he sold along with other varieties of farm products.  In a 1936 edition of Lanier County News, he was quoted as follows, “I have not purchased a pound of meat since the second year I was married and I do not consider a mana good farmer who cannot raise plenty of meat and food for his family and have some to sell.”
    Mr. Crum was one of the seven original stockholders of the Bank of Milltown. He was very prosperous as a cotton speculator, buying cotton when the price was low, storing it and selling it at a later date at a considerable profit.
    Mr. Crum was community minded and interested in the education and guidance of young people.  He served on the Lanier County Board of Education for twenty years and was Chairman of the Board when he died.  Mr. and Mrs. Crum were active members and supporters of the Beaver Dam Baptist Church in Ray City.  He served as a deacon for many years.  Mr. and Mrs. Crum are buried at Beaver Dam Church.
    The Crum family resided in a peg and groove house which was constructed in the 1830s for a time while their farm home was being built.  The family occupied the new home about 1913.  The residence was constructed from timber grown on the farm. The old house which served as a pack house after the new residence was constructed had been donated to the Agrirama at Abraham Baldwin College  where it is now preserved an represents a part of the history of the time.  The Crum family residence was destroyed by fire in April 1974.  The farm located some 3 1/2 miles west of Lakeland off the Ray City Road, is presently owned by G. L. Gaskins.
    Jackson Crum, “Jack”, as his “Annie” called him, will be remembered for many things by his family and the friends who knew him well.  “He was a quiet man most of the time, but when he spoke, we listened. He had the clearest blue eyes, was tall and thin, and had a strength you could see and feel.  A strength of character with a strong sense of right and wrong was always apparent.  You always paid your debts, went to church, told the truth, loved your family, were honest in business, worked hard, played little, wasted nothing, and believed in God. Always.”

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Sankey Booth, Wiregrass Educator

Sankey Booth was a teacher and an educational leader of south Georgia. In Berrien County, he served as the head of the Ray City School and as member of the county Board of Education.

Sankey Booth once served as head of the Ray City School, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Sankey Booth once served as head of the Ray City School, Ray City, Berrien County, GA. Image source:

The June 12, 1925 edition of the Clinch County News noted that Professor Booth would not return to the Ray City School, but would instead move to the Morven School in Brooks County.

“Prof. Sankey Booth, a Clinch county boy, will be superintendent of the Morven  school the coming term. He was re-elected at Ray City, but decided to accept the Morven School.”

Sankey Booth had taught previously at the Morven School.  The  Educational Survey of Brooks County Georgia, 1917  noted Sankey Booth as Principal of the Morven School; his wife was one of the teachers.

Morven School, 1917. Sankey Booth, Principal.

Morven School, 1917. Sankey Booth, Principal.

Perhaps conditions at the Morven School had improved since his previous tenure there; one can only hope.  In 1917, the building had been described as:  a dilapidated building with four poorly lighted classrooms,  and deemed “entirely inadequate to demands of the school.”  The classrooms had poor blackboards, but were equipped with patented school desks –  as opposed to hand-made furnishings found in many country schools. The school had a set of maps, two globes, a reference dictionary, and the school library boasted 50 volumes. The school grounds were bare and unimproved.  The four teachers were Sankey Booth, Mamie Shaw Booth, M. S. Hale, and Mrs. Roy Phillips.  The school ran a nine month academic calendar with ten grades.  The school had a pig club and a canning club, precursor to the 4-H club. Canning Club members were Mary Clower, Anne Holland, Mildred Jardon, Gladys Jordan, May Edmondson, Leona Parrish, Nellie Pond, Mary Edmondson, Florine Scruggs, Mary Hall, Kathleen Ousley, Nona Ousley, and Brooks Phillips.

In an old Atlanta Constitution newspaper article Linton Stephens “Catfish Charlie” Cobb (1869-1947), noted Georgia attorney and frequenter of Hahira, GA in his younger days, reminisced about the teaching talents of Sankey Booth (see the full article at the Hahira Historical Society):

“Hahira, pop.987, home of W.W. Webb daddy of good legislation on old age benefits in Georgia, and Mr. Sankey Booth, who could take a bunch of five and six-year-olds and teach them to read and spell as well as 8th graders. He appeared with his students all over the country and on WSB several times.”

Indeed, Sankey Booth had developed his own method of teaching and his students made spectacular achievements. In 1919, on May 2 more than 1000 school teachers and college professors attended the opening of the Georgia Educational Association convention in Macon, GA. That day, at the meeting of the County School Officers Association, Sankey Booth presented his new teaching method. The Atlanta Constitution reported on the meeting:

“An interesting feature of the meeting was a demonstration of the results of a new method of teaching. Cecil Booth, aged 7 years, son of Sankey Booth, superintendent of the school of Atkinson county, spelled rapidly and correctly a long list of words which many adults find difficult.  Mr. Booth told the school officers that the child’s ability to spell words that stump the average person is the result of a simple and direct method.
    He also declared there is no mechanical problem in the school arithmetic that a child of seven years cannot work, with the exception of problems in square and cube root.  Mr. Booth did not give the details of his system but volunteered to enlighten anyone who desired to communicate with him.”

By 1922, Sankey Booth had perfected his teaching method and sought to present it to the faculty of the University of Georgia.

Atlanta Constitution
July 23, 1922 pg C5

Georgia Teacher Develops Unusual Phonetic System

Method Assists Pupils in Becoming High School Students Several Years Earlier.


    Athens, Ga., July 22. -(Special.)- A phonetic method of teaching which he declares is entirely different from anything ever offered in Georgia or the south, has been worked out and introduced by Sankey Booth, superintendent or the schools at Willacoochee, Georgia.
   According to his statements and the statements of other, who have seen this method used, it is one of the most remarkable systems ever offered.  Actual experiments have been made and children as young as five and six years have had thousands of words added to their vocabulary, making it possible for them to read newspapers at that age.
    Mr. Booth is in attendance at the University of Georgia summer school, and before the end of the session, it is his plan to bring the system before the faculty for their approval.  He has been working on the system for six years and states he is confident he has had sufficient time to prove its values.
   “I don’t believe in bald-headed men prescribing a hair restorer,” said Mr. Booth, “but I have made a thorough test with my own son, who at the age of five and a half years out-spelled a high school class, and who, at the age of ten years, is in the tenth grade, high school, reading Latin easily and working algebra and geometry readily, and who knows more grammar than many teachers holding a high school license.  Mr. Mizelle, president of the Sparks Collegiate institute, gave this boy and examination some time ago, and said he would make an excellent first grade teacher.
     He tells of another child, the little daughter of J. O. White, of Pearson, Ga., who was passed to the seventh grade at the age of eight, and at the end of her third year in school.
     “Dr. O. H. Mingledorf, who at that time had for years been a professor at Asbury college gave this little girl, who had been taught my method, an examination,” said Mr. Booth, “and he found that she could readily work any form of complex decimal fractions, also  square root and cube root.  He said to her mother, ‘Madame, I have been for years a teacher in Asbury college and men entering college fall down in their work because they are not able to do work that this child has done with perfect ease.'”
      The teachers in Mr. Booth’s section are using the method with a great degree of success, reports say.  Many of his friends are urging him, so he says, to have his discovery protected by copyright, but so far he has not, because of his expressed desire for no other reward than the consciousness that he has been of help to his fellow teachers.
    No details in connection wit the system were disclosed by Mr. Booth in his interview with newspapermen, other than to say that it was a phonetic method.

Moody and Sankey was the evangelical duo of Ira David Sankey and Dwight Lyman Moody. Starting after their meeting in June 1871, the team wrote Christian songs and traveled throughout the United States and the United Kingdom calling people to God through their use of song, with Moody preaching and Sankey singing. Together they published books of Christian hymns.

Sankey Booth and his twin brother, Moody Booth, were born May 5, 1877.  The twins were named after the famed evangelist duo of the 1870s, Dwight Lyman Moody and Ira David Sankey.   The Booth twins were the youngest sons of the Reverend Irwin R. Booth, among the 23 children born to the Methodist minister. Their father was born in South Carolina days before the declaration of the War of 1812. The Reverend Booth became a pioneer of wiregrass Georgia , settling in Ware county with his parents, wife and children about 1846. After the death of his wife in 1867, Irwin R. Booth moved to Clinch county. There, in 1868 he married the twin’s mother-to-be, Margaret Rives Knowles. Margaret Rives Knowles was the daughter of William Rives and the widow of confederate soldier J.H.J. Knowles. Irwin Booth was a well known minister of Wiregrass Georgia and was responsible for the establishment of at least three Methodist churches. He died January 18, 1896.

Sankey’s brother, Moody Booth, followed in the footsteps of his father and became a Methodist minister; he served as pastor at several churches in the South Georgia Conference. By 1900, Sankey Booth had established his lifelong career as an educator. The Census of 1900 shows him occupied as a teacher in the Bickley District of Ware County. He was boarding in the household of John Carter at the time of enumeration.

By 1900, Sankey Booth was already becoming a leader among Wiregrass educators. In 1901 he delivered an address at the close of the summer term the Ware county schools. In 1902 he served as vice president of the teacher’s monthly institute that was meeting monthly at Waycross, GA.

Atlanta Constitution
April 3, 1902

Teachers’ Monthly Institute.
    Waycross, Ga., April 2. – (Special.) – The public school teachers of Ware county have organized the teachers’ monthly institute. They are to meet at Waycross on the fourth Saturday in each month. County School Commissioner T. R. Bennett has been elected president, Sanky Booth vice president, W. O. Brewer secretary, and Miss Bertie Morrison treasurer.  The teachers are discussing the matter of establishing a library for the use of the teachers of the county, and this matter will have attention at the next meeting of the  institute.

In 1906, Sankey Booth married Mamie Shaw, of Berrien County.   Like Sankey, she was a school teacher.  She was born  June 4, 1884, a daughter of James Harrison Shaw and Christie Ann Mcauley.  Mamie had been orphaned around the age of two, both of her parents dying in 1886.  Mamie was apparently raised by her half-brother, Alfred Shaw, who was a hardware merchant in Ware County.  At least in the Census of 1900 she was living in his household. Another half-brother, Martin Albion Shaw, was a teacher before becoming a pastor in the Methodist Episcopal Church. Also in the Alfred Shaw household in 1910 was the teacher Marcus S. Patten.  Perhaps it was these educators who influenced Mamie Shaw to become a teacher herself.

Marriage Certificate of Sankey Booth and Mamie Shaw.

Marriage Certificate of Sankey Booth and Mamie Shaw.

The Census of 1910  found Sankey Booth and his young family in Waresboro, Ware County, GA where he and Mamie were both teaching school. Shortly after that, the Booths moved to Nashville, GA and Sankey served on the Berrien County School Board during 1914 and 1915. William Green Avera, subject of previous posts ( Georgia Teacher For Fifty Years Only Went To School 335 Days, Professor Avera Lived Near Ray City, GA ), was County School Superintendent during that period. As noted above, in 1917 the Booths were both teaching in Morven, GA where Sankey was principal of the Morven School. By  1918, the Booths were living in Pearson, Coffee County, GA, where Sankey was teaching, as usual, when he registered for the draft for World War I.   At 41, he was of medium height and build, with gray eyes and black hair.

In December of 1918, Sankey Booth was elected to become the first school superintendent of the newly created Atkinson County. Mamie also continued to teach. The Booths were living in a rented home on Austin Street, in Pearson, GA. Sankey Booth remained the superintendent of Schools for Atkinson county at least through 1920.

Some time in the early 1920s, Sankey Booth came to be head of the new school at Ray City, GA.  The construction of the brick school building at Ray City was begun in 1920.

Ray City School photographed in the early 1920s. Identified: Second row 3rd from the right, Ida Lou Giddens Fletcher. Top row 2nd from the right, Ralph Sirmans. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society

Ray City School photographed in the early 1920s. Identified: Second row 3rd from the right, Ida Lou Giddens Fletcher. Top row 2nd from the right, Ralph Sirmans. Image courtesy of Berrien County Historical Society

In a 1923 Nashville Herald news article the Ray City Parent-Teacher Association boasted:

 “Under the able management of Prof. R. D. Thomas we have one of the best schools in the county, and with same management for 1924 expect the best. In addition to what we are doing we are going to build a home or teacherage for our superintendent. This is being done in other States than Georgia and is a step forward for better rural schools.”

It appears, though, that Professor Thomas did not return for 1924, and Sankey Booth served in his stead.  Sankey Booth’s tenure at Ray City was also to be short term. Although the school at Ray City was a new multi-classroom, well-illuminated brick building – perhaps the most modern Berrien county school of the time  – Sankey Booth left the Ray City School in 1925 to return to the school at Morven, GA.

Around that time,  Sankey and Mamie Booth moved to Hahira, GA. Census records show they were both teaching in Hahira in 1930. The Booths remained in Hahira for the rest of their lives .  Sankey Booth died October 29, 1965 in Lowndes County, GA.

Clinch County News
November 5, 1965


    HAHIRA –  Sankey Booth, 88 of Hahira, a pioneer school teacher and administrator in south Georgia, died here Friday night after a long illness.
    Among his educational activities, Mr. Booth gained fame with his methods of teaching young children to read. At one time he was a reading consultant for the State Department of Education.
    A native of Clinch County, Mr. Booth had lived in Hahira for about 40 years.  He had been principal of the Cecil school in Cook County and was the first school superintendent of the Atkinson County system.
    Mr. Booth was a member and lay leader of the Hahira Methodist Church.
    Survivors include a son, Cecil Booth, of Peachtree City, Ga; a daughter, Mrs. Horace Overstreet of Hahira; a sister, Mrs. Clayton Harris of Wildwood, Fla.; three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
    Funeral services were held Sunday at 3:00 p. m. in the Adel Methodist Church. The Rev. Larry King of the Hahira Methodist Church and the Rev. James A. Agee of the Nashville Methodist Church conducted the rites.  Burial was in the Adel Cemetery.

Posts about Ray City School:


George Calhoun Mikell

An old clipping from the Clinch County News, dated November 8, 1929 gives a brief history of the Mikell family, beginning with George Mikell who was a pioneer settler of Clinch County.  Three of his grandsons, Rufus Lane Mikell, George Calhoun Mikell and Otis Willie Mikell (subject of earlier post – see Ola Crews and Otis Mikell) became residents of Ray City, GA.  The news clipping, which provided in part the  following information , is transcribed below.

George Calhoun Mikell, Ray City, Georgia

George Calhoun Mikell made Ray City his home some time before 1920.  He was a Primitive Baptist and is buried at New Ramah Cemetery in Ray City.

Grave marker of George Calhoun Mikell (1896-1960), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Grave marker of George Calhoun Mikell (1876-1960), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

George Calhoun Mikell was born March 4, 1876, a son of Rebecca Lee and John A. Mikell.  His paternal grandparents,  Rachel Roberts and George Mikell (1818-1880), are buried at Wayfare Primitive Baptist church in unmarked graves.

His father, John A. Mikell (abt 1846 – 1889), was a respected Clinch County citizen who lived near Dupont, GA. “John A. Mikell was baptized July 5 1883 into the membership of the Primitive Baptist church, and on Dec 1, 1883 was dismissed by letter and united with Olive Leaf church near Dupont. Mr. Mikell served as deputy sheriff under Sheriff J. M. Jeffords who sheriff from 1881 to 1887.  He was elected justice of the peace of the 1280 district, commissioned January 24, 1881, serving two terms of four years each”

When George was thirteen years old, he lost his father. John A. Mikell died April 9, 1889 and was buried at North Cemetery, Clinch County, GA.

George’s mother, Rebecca Lee, was a daughter of Phoebe Register and Zachariah Lee. She was born November 5th, 1845 in what is now Clinch county, GA. She  married John A. Mikell about 1868.  Following the death of her husband in 1889 she continued to live in Clinch county where she farmed, with the help of her children, in the 1280th district .    After her sister, Elizabeth Lee Fiveash, died on May 05, 1912, Rebecca Lee Mikell married her brother-in-law George Appling Fiveash (1842-1927).   On the death of George Fiveash in 1927, the twice-widowed Rebecca Lee Mikell Fiveash went to live with her son, George Calhoun Mikell, at Ray City, GA. She died December 08, 1932 in Lowndes Co GA.  She was buried at North Cemetery, DuPont, Clinch County, GA.

George C. Mikell married Mary Hughes on January 31, 1904, in Clinch County.  She was  a daughter of James H. Hughes.

George C. Mikell and his brother John P. Mikell both became “leading members of the Primitive Baptist denomination in this section, one a layman and the other a minister; one adhering to the ‘old line’ association and the other to what is called the ‘Peace Movement’ association of the old Union Association.  Elder John P. Mikell as a preacher is known far and wide for his gifts and influence as a Christian worker, and his brother George is making his association a capable clerk and as a layman is known and loved for his upright, Christian life.”

George C. Mikell, Nov 1, 1929, Clinch County News

George C. Mikell, Nov 1, 1929, Clinch County News

In the census of 1910, George C. Mikell was enumerated with his wife and son, Ollie, in the 1280 district of Clinch County. Some time after 1910 he brought his family from Clinch to Berrien County. On September 12, 1918 he registered for the draft for World War I in Nashville, GA.  At age 42, he was tall and slender with blue eyes and black hair. He was a self-employed farmer with a home on Rural Free Delivery route #2 out of Nashville.   By the time of the 1920 census, the Mikells were living on a farm near Ray City on the Nashville Road.

The 1930 census shows George and Mary still farming at Ray City, George’s mother living in their household. His mother died in 1932, and was buried with her first husband at Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church in Clinch County.

George’s wife, Mary Mikell died April 25, 1939 and was buried at New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  Later he remarried, taking Nellie Hughes, daughter of John Jasper Hughes, as his second wife.  When George C. Mikell passed in 1960, he was buried at New Ramah Cemetery next to his first wife.

Clinch County News
Friday Morning, November 8, 1929

Our Column in History


    George Mikell, an old pioneer citizen of Clinch county, came to this section from Bulloch county, and settled in what is now Echols county where he married. Later he moved to a point near Dupont and spent the remainder of his life there. He was born in Bulloch county in 1816, and died about 1880. His wife was Rachel Roberts; she was born in 1830, but we have not learned who her parents were but we infer she was a daughter of John  Roberts who also came to this section from Bulloch county.
    To them were born only three children, viz:

    1. John A. Mikell who married Rebecca Lee.
    2. Sarah who married Mark or S. M. Bennet.
    3. Bettie or Elizabeth who married Samuel Tomlinson.

    George Mikell and his wife were members of Wayfare Primitive Baptist church, and are buried there.  Their graves are not marked. George Mikell had two brothers, Bob and Charles.  The former lived in Wayne county and the latter moved to Florida.

John A. Mikell

    John A. Mikell was born in this county about 1846, and as above stated, the only son of George and Rachel Mikell.  He lived near Dupont, where he was a respected citizen.  He married Rebecca, a daughter of Zachariah Lee, and a sister to the late P. M. Lee of Dupont.  She was born Nov. 5th 1845 in this county, and is now living with her son Mr. G. C. Mikell at Ray City, having just past her 84th birthday this week.  Her husband had been dead forty years having died April 9th, 1889.   He is buried at the North cemetery. To Mr. and Mrs. Mikell were born ten children, viz:
    1.  Ardelia who married Moses Pittman, living at Arcadia, Fla.
    2. Alice who married Roland Zeigler.
    3. Rufus L. who married ollie Morgan, daughter of Granville Morgan.
    4. Charlton Z. who married Mrs. Lula Crews.
    5. George C. who married Mary, daughter of James H. Hughes.
    6. Perry C. who married Bessie Powell; living at Quitman.
    7. Phoebe who married R. A. Dasher and lived near Bemiss.
    8. John P. who married Sallie, daughter of George Corbitt of Echols county.
    9. Otis W. who married Ola Crews.
    10. Augustus T. married Annie Wilkerson of Berrien county.  He is the only one of the ten children not living.
    John A. Mikell was baptized July 5, 1883 into the membership of the Primitive Baptist church, and on Dec 1, 1883 was dismissed by letter and united with Olive Leaf church near Dupont.
    Mr. Mikell served as deputy sheriff under Sheriff J. M. Jeffords who sheriff from 1881 to 1887.  He was elected justice of the peace of the 1280 district, commissioned January 24, 1881, serving two terms of four years each, his last term expiring just before his death.
    John P. Mikell and his brother Geo. C. have both become leading members of the Primitive Baptist denomination in this section, one a layman and the other a minister; one adhering to the “old-line” association and the other to what is called the “Peace Movement” association of the the old Union Association.  Elder John P. Mikell as a preacher is known far and wide for his gifts and influence as a Christian worker, and his brother George is making his association a capable clerk and as a layman is known and loved for his upright Christian life.

Some Other Data

    The writer would like to find out more about the older Mikells or the forefathers of George Mikell.  Back up in Bulloch county where they lived we find a number of references to them on the county records but of course we cannot identify them.  The following Mikell marriages are of record there:
     Alexander Mikell and Rebecca Hollingsworth, Dec 7, 1804.
    Charles Mikell and Dicy Lee, Dec 17, 1804.
    Thomas Mikell and Mary Row, April 3l 1805.
    John Mikell and Hannah Stuart, Aug. 6, 1805.
    Thomas Mikell and Mary Woodcock, Nov. 10, 1807.
    William Mikell and Mary Anderson, Nov 21, 1809.
    John Mikell and Catherine Lowther, Feb. 8, 1826.
    John Mikell, an old citizen of Bulloch county, died in 1799, and his estate was administered by his widow Elizabeth, and Edward Mikell.  They were appointed administrators Feb. 10, 1800. Their bond was for $20,000 and signed by Sherod McCall and James Mikell. The estate was appraised in 1800 by Stephen Denmark and John Rawls and Jesse Mixon, and valued at $8099.75.  Among the property enumerated were 13 slaves and $3500 worth of cattle. A petition for division of the estate was filed by the widow in May, 1803, and the Court granted partitioners to divide the land, and among these were George Mikell, James Mikell, Sr., and James Mikell, Jr.  In a sales account filed by the administrators in May 1803, Sarah Mikell, Francis Mikell and James Mikell were mentioned as younger heirs.  In March, 1807, the administrators were required to show cause why they had not made any return. Further than this we did not find out about this estate. It seemed to be the only Mikell estate administered in Bulloch prior to 1820.

Baskin – Brady Wedding

The engagement and wedding of Mary Frances Baskin may have been one of the most widely publicized society events in Ray City history.    The story of her engagement announcement in the spring of 1943 was the subject of an earlier post (see Engagement of Mary Frances Baskin) and  was closely followed in the Atlanta newspapers. The Baskin-Brady wedding took place at the Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta.

Mary Frances Baskin grew up in Ray City, GA.  In the late 1930s she was a school teacher  at the Ray City School, and later she taught in the Atlanta school system.  

The May 23, 1943  Atlanta Social Pages included the brief announcement of plans for a summer wedding:

Atlanta Constitution
May 23, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, announce the engagement of their daughter, Mary Frances, of Atlanta, to William Lester Brady Jr., of this city, the marriage to take place in the late summer at the Druid Hills Baptist church.

Druid Hills Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, circa 1942.

Druid Hills Baptist Church, Atlanta, GA, circa 1942.

Apparently plans changed and the wedding was postponed until the fall. The papers reported that prominent Baptist minister Dr. Louie D. Newton would perform the ceremony.

Atlanta Constitution
November 19, 1943

Baskin-Brady Wedding Planned

    Miss Mary Frances Baskin and William L. Brady Jr. have planned their marriage for Monday at 11 a.m. in the study of Dr. Louie E. Newton, at the Druid Hills Baptist church.
    Dr. Newton will officiate in the presence of only members of the two families and a small group of friends. Miss Helen Baskin, of Macon, will be maid of honor and only attendant for her sister, and Rev. J. Milton Richardson, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal church, will be the best man. The couple will fly to New Orleans for their honeymoon.
    Miss Baskin is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, Ga., and her father will give her in marriage. She resides here, where she is a member of the Atlanta public school system. Mr. Brady is the son of Mr. and Mrs. William L. Brady, and is manager of the Paramount theater.  The engagement of the young couple was announced last May.

Dr. Louie D. Newton

Dr. Louie D. Newton


Dr. Louie De Votie Newton performed the marriage of Mary Frances Baskin to William L. Brady, Jr. in his study at the Druid Hills Baptist Church on November 23, 1943.

 According to Wikipedia, Newton became pastor of Druid Hills Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia in 1929.  He wrote a daily newspaper column for the Atlanta Constitution and Savannah Morning News, titled “Good Morning,” and weekly columns for the Christian Index. He was the author of several books, and did a radio show on WGST-Atlanta.   In 1943 he was a co-founder of the Georgia Temperance League. In 1946,  he was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. That summer he was invited by Stalin to visit with leaders of the Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists in Russia.  Upon his return, some accused him of  being a communist sympathizer. Newton was president of the Georgia Baptist Convention in 1950 and 1951. Later he was vice president of the Baptist World Alliance.  He retired as pastor of the Druid Hills Baptist Church in October 1968. He died of pneumonia in 1986 at the age of 94.

Atlanta Constitution
November 23, 1943

Miss Baskin Wed To W. L. Brady Jr. In Pastor’s Study

    Miss Mary Frances Baskin and William L. Brady Jr., were married yesterday morning in the study of Dr. Louie D. Newton, pastor of the Druid Hills Baptist church. Dr. Newton officiated at 11 a.m. in the presence of only members of the two families and out-of-town guests.
    Miss Helen Baskin, of Macon, was her sister’s maid of honor and only attendant. She was becomingly gowned in a model of navy blue and her flowers were gardenias.  Rev. Milton Richardson, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal church, was best man for Mr. Brady.
    The bride, who is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Armstrong B. Baskin, of Ray City, Ga., was given in marriage by her father. A lovely brunette, she was handsomely gowned in her traveling suit of aquamarine wool, worn with harmonizing accessories. She carried a bouquet of orchids.
    Mrs. Baskin, the brides mother, wore black crepe with black accessories, and her flowers were gardenias. Mrs. Brady, the groom’s mother, was also in black and wore gardenias.
    After the ceremony, the bridal couple left by plane for New Orleans where they will spend their honeymoon. Upon their return they will reside at 878 Drewry street.
    Out-of-town guests were: Mr. and Mrs. A.B. Baskin and Mrs. J.B. Baskin, of Ray City; Miss Mary Davis, Buchanan; Mrs. Arlie D. Tucker, Auburn, Ala.; Mr. and Mrs. Harris Dill, Ocilla; Miss Helen Baskin, Macon; Mrs. Allie Hayes Richardson, Rome; Mrs. Etta Ramsay, Toccoa; Mrs. Ida H. Moseley, Albany.


Atlanta Constitution
December 1, 1943

Mr. and Mrs. William L. Brady have returned from New Orleans, La., where they spent their honeymoon.  Mrs. Brady is the former Miss Mary Frances Baskin and her marriage to Mr. Brady was an event of November 22.

Jonathan David Knight, Signer of the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Preamble to the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Preamble to the Georgia Constitution of 1877

In 1877, Georgia was emerging from the federally directed period of Reconstruction that followed the end of the Civil War.  Under the terms of Reconstruction, Georgia had adopted a new state constitution in 1868 that was distasteful to many Georgians.  Although the delegates to the 1868 State Constitutional Convention had included some antebellum Georgia political leaders, such as General Levi J. Knight, of Berrien County (subject of previous posts), many Georgia natives felt that the drafting of the Constitution of 1868 had been dominated by northern Republicans and northern sympathizers. When the Constitution of 1868 had been completed and the vote came up on the question of its adoption, General Knight was absent and did not vote.

As Reconstruction came to a close southern Democrats regained control of the state government and called for a new constitutional convention in 1877.  On July 11, 1877, 193 delegates met  in Atlanta to draft a new constitution.  Among them was Jonathan David Knight, a son of General Levi J. Knight, Confederate veteran, and the convention delegate representing Berrien, Lowndes and Clinch counties.  He was six feet tall, with fair complexion, light hair and blue eyes.

Jonathan D. Knight made his home in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County, GA, the 1144 Georgia Militia District.  When the Constitutional Convention adjourned on August 25, his signature was on the new constitution. Georgia voters ratified the new constitution in December of 1877.

When the Georgia Constitutional Convention convened on July 11, 1877 the Atlanta Constitution printed “Sketches of the Members:”

Jonathan D. Knight   

 Jonathan David Knight, of Berrien county, was born on the 2nd day of April, 1840, in what was then Lowndes county. He is the son of Hon. Levy J. Knight, who represented the county of Lowndes in the Legislature from 1835 to 1854.
   He entered the army with the second company from his county on July 28, 1861, in the Twenty-ninth Georgia Regiment. He was elected Second Lieutenant after two months service as a private, and was, on the reorganization of the regiment in 1862, elected First Lieutenant, and soon afterwards was made Captain. He served with this rank in all the severe campaigns in the West, and was among the few were not disabled when this gallant regiment returned home at the close of the war.
    He taught school before the war, but held no civil office. After the war he was elected to the Convention of 1865, and in 1872 was elected to the Senate from the Sixth District and served four years.

Jonathan D. Knight had been educated in the common schools of the county.  William Green Avera, great educator of early Berrien County, wrote:

“Eighty percent of the age eligibles for the Civil War service were illiterates. But among all this illiteracy, a number of boys received inspiration from these early teachers that made them colossal powers in our day — in legislative, judicial, and literary circles. A few of the names are; Hon Jonathan D. Knight, a noted teacher and who served more terms in the House and Senate of the legislature of Georgia than any other man in the County (he died while Senator); Hon. Lacy E. Lastinger, a noted teacher , lawyer, and judge of the Court; Hon, W.H. Griffin, a noted teacher, lawyer, and member of the legislature, and a judge; Hon Henry B. Peeples, a successful lawyer, Judge, and senator; Hon Henry H. Knight, a successful merchant and Senator.”  – W.G. Avera, 1937

Jonathan D. Knight joined the Berrien County Minute Men, Company C, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, as a private on August 1, 1861. He was elected Junior Second Lieutenant of Company D, November 7, 1861. On May 7, 1862 he was elected First Lieutenant while the Berrien Minute Men were stationed at Causton’s Bluff, near Savannah. On this same date, his brother-in-law, James Aaron Knight,  enlisted at Smith’s Island and joined Berrien Minute Men Company C.

The officers election of May 7 notwithstanding, Jonathan D. Knight was made Captain on May 13, 1862   This  appointment would be officially confirmed by officers’ examination conducted July 1862 at Causton’s Bluff.

In July 1862, regimental records note Captain J. D. Knight was sick.  In a letter from Causton’s Bluff, John W. Hagan reported “The company is very sickly & dose not seem to improve. The health of the troops at this post is very bad. We have had 3 deaths in 24 hours & others expecting to die evry day.”

From November 1862 to December 8, 1862, regimental records note Jonathan D. Knight was present with the Berrien Minute Men at Camp Young and that he was “in arrest.” The records of December 8, also note that he was sick. The charge must have been minor or was dismissed, for in December he was present with the unit at Camp Clingman.

Jonathan D. Knight suffered from serious illness in 1863 and was absent sick from the unit.  In a letter home dated March 19, 1863, John Hagan, a solider of the 29th wrote, ” Capt. J. D. Knight is yet absent from the company and we are all very anxious to see him with us again. He has had a hard spel of sickness I know or he would have returned before now.”

Knight did recover and return to his unit. He was captured near Decatur, GA on July 22,1864 and held as a prisoner of war until released at Fort Delaware, DE on June 17,1865.

In 1872, the CSA veteran was nominated for State Senator. Under the terms of Reconstruction, this was the first post-war free election of state officers in Georgia.

Atlanta Daily Sun, Sep. 8, 1872 — page 2
Sixth Senatorial District
A convention of the Democrats of the above district, was held in Valdosta on the 3d inst., and Capt. J. D. Knight, of Berrien county , was nominated for State Senator.

He was elected and served for four years before serving at the Constitutional Convention in 1877.  At the conclusion of the convention, he was the 99th representative to sign the new Georgia Constitution. The 115-page constitution written by this convention was approved by the voters and went into effect December 21, 1877.  The Georgia Archives provides links to the Preamble, the Bill of Rights (Section I), and nine pages of signatures.

Signature of Jonathan David Knight, of Rays Mill, GA, on the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Signature of Jonathan David Knight, of Rays Mill, GA, on the Georgia Constitution of 1877

Jonathan D. Knight born April 2, 1840, died March 9, 1884. He was buried in Old Town Cemetery, Milltown, Ga. (now Lakeland, Lanier County, GA.)

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The Grand Jury of 1868, Berrien County, Georgia

Ray City Man Led Cattle Rustling Ring in 1950

As a young man William Wallace  “Buddy” Dampier, of Ray City, GA was the ringleader of a gang of cattle rustlers that operated in Berrien, Clinch and Lanier counties. The gang was busted and tried in all three counties in 1950. A report on the case appeared in the March 10, 1950 edition of the Clinch County News.

Clinch County News
March 10, 1950

Rustling Ring Pled Guilty Here


Eight members of a cattle rustling ring which had been accused of operating in Berrien, Clinch and Lanier counties entered pleas of guilty in Clinch Superior Court here on Tuesday.  The “ring” had been apprehended by the sheriffs of the three counties, including Sheriff Wooten of Clinch.
   Seven of the men had been sentenced in Lanier Superior Court last week. The eighth, James Dupree, 35, the oldest, was not indicted in Lanier County.
    Dupree pled guilty to accessory after the fact, having been charged with hauling one of the cows which he claimed he did without knowledge at the time that it was stolen property.
    The others were Talmadge Chaney and Hubert Chaney of Berrien county, W. W. “Buddy” Dampier of Ray City, and three minors.  All the defendants who were implicated in stealing cattle in Clinch pled guilty after an understanding was reached by attorneys representing the defendants with the approval of Sol. Gen. Edward Parrish, Sheriff Wooten, the GBI agent, and with the approval of the Grand Jury, that they receive the same punishment or penalty as in Lanier county.
  Only defendant actually tried by a jury in Lanier county was W. W. Dampier, allegedly to have been leader of the ring, and the Lanier jury which tried his case fixed his penalty at not less than two years nor more than two years with recommendation he be sentenced as for a misdemeanor.  Judge Smith ignored this recommendation which under the law resulted in a two-year sentence to the penitentiary as fixed by the jury.
    The Court authorities agreed that it would be unfair to inflict a greater penalty on the other defendants wo either confessed or pled guilty, than that imposed upon W. W. Dampier by the jury in his case.
    Under the law as it now stands, the jury fixes the maximum and minimum penalty in their verdict by which the judge is bound in felony cases, and the sentence cannot exceed the number of years fixed in the verdict by the jury.
    All of the defendants except W. W. Dampier and Dupree were less than 21 years of age. Three of them were 17.  Officials of the Court expressed hope that when they have served their sentences imposed in Lanier county that they will see the error of their ways and will come out and make good citizens, and this hope is concurred in by people generally throughout the three counties.   “If they make good prisoners and go straight, their sentences in other counties will be suspended as long as they go straight and violate no law,” Judge Smith said.
    W. W. Dampier and Talmadge Chaney received straight two-year sentences.  Other defendants, except Dupree, were given two-year sentences with six months suspended each on account of the fact that they either pled guilty or confessed or turned state’s evidence.  Dupree was sentenced to 18 months with 6 mounts suspended on good behavior. 
    Seven of the men now face trial in Berrien county on similar charges.  It was indicated that there may be other  persons involved in the case by the time it is called during the May term.

William Wallace Dampier was  born June 25, 1929 in Berrien County, Georgia. He was a son of  William Henry Dampier. William Wallace Dampier died March 29, 1975 in Berrien County, GA.

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