Ray’s Mill Hotel Burns, 1915

Jacob Fredrick Hinely operated the Ray’s Mill Hotel in a two story wooden building that was owned by James Henry Swindle and James S. Swindle. The hotel building stood in Ray City, GA where the Clements Fountain was later built. Hinely also had a small store located on the first floor right of the hotel.

Rays Mill Hotel, circa 1912, Rays Mill, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Rays Mill Hotel, circa 1912, Rays Mill, GA. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

On Sunday, April 25, 1915, Ray City was ravaged by a fire that destroyed several buildings.  A city block – nearly a third of the Ray City business district – was lost. The fire consumed the hotel and all of its contents, a loss of $6,000. The total damage from the fire amounted to about $30,000.

The Atlanta Constitution
April 27, 1915


Third of the Business Section of Ray Mills [sic], Near Valdosta, Burns.

Valdosta, Ga., April 26 –(Special.) — A third of the business section of Ray Mllis [sic], a flourishing town fourteen miles from Valdosta was destroyed by fire on Sunday. A number of merchants lost their stores and stocks. And the Ray Mills hotel [sic], al large two-story building, was entirely destroyed, with most of the furnishings. The losses will amount to about $30,000. Partially covered by insurance.

J.F. Hinely, proprietor of the hotel: J. C. Parrish & Co., John J. Clements, Jr., J.H. and J.S. Swindle, and W. M. Studstill are the principal losers.

The town has no water facilities and the block in which the flames started was burned before the fire could be checked. 


After the hotel burned, Jacob Fredrick Hinely and his wife, Laura Frances Hinely, remained in Ray City.  Hinely took up farming.  He was also listed in the 1917 Rating Book for Wholesalers and Shippers of Fresh Fish, Fresh Oysters and Shell Fish of All Kinds ….

Hinely registered for the WWI draft at Ray City on September 12, 1918, his registration form being completed by C.O. Terry.   Hinely was 43 years old, medium height, medium build, brown eyes with light hair.

By the early 1920’s  a boom period arrived in Ray City, GA and J. Fred Hinely was proprietor and operator of a beef market, one of the thriving businesses in the new town. He and his family lived in a rented house on Jones Street. While Fred ran the butcher shop his wife Laura kept house and daughter Thelma attended school. His son Theodore Hinely worked on his own account as an automobile driver, one of the automotive entrepreneurs of Ray City. The widower James T. Philips was a boarder living with the Hinelys. Their neighbors were Fred and Laura Tyler, and Katherine Swindle and her family.

Later, by 1930,   Laura and Jacob Fredrick Hinely left Ray City and moved to Jacksonville, FL were Hinely worked as a salesman for the Jax Steam Laundry.

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