Ray City Bank Woes ~ 1931

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

1928 Letterhead of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, GA

The Citizens Bank, Ray City, GA – 1929 newspaper advertisement from the Ray City News

Through the stock market crash of 1929 The Citizens Bank of Ray City remained in business , and the local ”boosters” remained optimistic. (see Bank of Ray City, GA through Optimism and Depression)  The firm’s letterhead from 1928 shows George W. Varn was president; James H. “Jim” Swindle, Vice President; John D. Luke, Cashier; and J. W. Johnson, assistant cashier.

Nashville Herald November 21, 1929

As we understand it the Citizens Bank of Ray City is one of the strongest financial institutions in the county and its business is growing steadily as will be shown by the last financial statement as called for by the superintendent of state banks.  It has total resources of over $150,000, and deposits of over $100,000 and shows that it has no notes and bills rediscounted. Berrien county is justly proud of its banking institutions and conservative business men do not hesitate to place the Citizens Bank of Ray City along with the head of list.

In fact, in July of 1930, the Atlanta Constitution had reported that the banks of Berrien County, including the Ray City bank were financially sound.

But by the end of December, the Citizens Bank of Ray City had failed.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.

The closing of The Citizens Bank of Ray City was among those announced in December of 1930.


New York Times.  Dec 21, 1930.

ATLANTA, Ga., Dec. 20 (AP) – A. B. Mobley, State Superintendent of Banks, announced today his department had been asked to take over the affairs of the Union Banking Company of Douglas, operating branches at Barxton and Nichols, the Toombs County Bank at Lyons and the Citizens Bank of Ray City. Cause of the closings was not stated.

In 1931, the Ray City Bank underwent reorganization. A series of Nashville Herald articles reported on the situation:

The Nashville Herald
January 29, 1931, front page,

R.E. Dean in Charge of Ray City Bank

      Mr. R.E. Dean who is in charge of the affairs of the closed Ray City bank is making satisfactory progress with his work.  Optimism prevails in regard to the opening of the bank, for there can be no better location for a banking institution than Ray City, situated as it is in the heart of one of the finest farming sections in South Georgia, and the land tilled by experienced and reliable farmers who are good for their contracts.

The Nashville Herald
  February 19, 1931, front page,

Citizens Bank, Ray City Applies to Sell Assets

If Offer Is Accepted Depositors Will Receive 50 Per Cent Net.

      According to an announcement of a hearing to be held before Judge W.R. Smith at the court house in this city Saturday, Feb. 21, an application will be made by the State Superintendent of Banks, A.B. Mobley, to sell the assets of the Citizens Bank of Ray City, which closed a short while before Christmas.  It is understood that the depositors have recommended that the offer be accepted.
       An extract from the notice reads as follows:  “Notice is hereby given that the undersigned has received an offer for the purchase of the assets of The Citizens Bank of Ray City, by the terms of which officer the depositors of said Bank are to receive fifty per cent of their claims net, the preferred claims against said Bank being fully paid under the terms of said offer, in addition to the payment of the fifty per cent net to the depositors.”
       The Herald was unable to learn whether or not the bank would be reopened for business.

The Nashville Herald
February 26, 1931, front page,

Ray City Bank Opened Tuesday

      As we go to press encouraging news reaches us, that while permanent arrangements has not yet been perfected for the opening of the bank there, yet tentative arrangements have and the bank has been doing business since Tuesday.  This good news will increase the optimism, now prevailing in this section over the picking-up of business generally.

The Nashville Herald
March 12, 1931, front page

Ray City Bank Pays Depositors 50 Per Cent

John D. Luke, Cashier of Old Bank In Charge of New Organization

      The Ray City Banking Company has reopened for business under an agreement to pay the depositors 50 per cent cash for the amount of their deposits, and has been making these payments since last Thursday.  It is understood that many of the depositors are leaving their money in the bank, which although a private institution is said to be doing a good business, and receiving large deposits.
       The above arrangement was made possible through the efforts of Messrs. George W. Varn, A.D. Lee and Y.F. Carter, who put up the money with which to pay off the depositors.  Mr. John D. Luke, cashier before the bank was closed, is again acting in this capacity.
      The institution is known as the Citizens Banking Company, and serves one of the best communities in this section.  The general prediction is that the institution will continue to prosper.

Article transcriptions provided in part by Skeeter Parker.

Related Posts:

Wolves in the Wiregrass

When Wiregrass pioneers came to settle the area of present day Ray City and Berrien County, GA this section of the state was an untamed frontier. As Montgomery Folsom described,  in the 1830s it was “a country that was well supplied with Indians, bears, panthers, wolves and other unfriendly neighbors…”  Earlier posts on this site have recounted tales of the Berrien tiger.  A Brief History of Cook County, Adel, Georgia goes on, “The country was full of wild animals. Fox and wild turkey hunts were great sports. The wolves often came out of the creeks and branches at night and devoured fat hogs and calves if these were not carefully housed. Many did they get even in the day time. Bears were not infrequent.

An early wiregrass pioneer defense against wolves was the wolf pit. An 1880 newspaper article describes a wolf trap:

The Atlanta Weekly Constitution April 20, 1880   Pg 4

Roundabout in Georgia

Berrien County News:  While in Irwin last week we were shown a wolf pit.  It shows signs of antiquity, and we learned that it had been dug more than fifty years.  The pit is situated close to the road, and about a quarter of a mile north of Brushy Creek church.  It is a circular ditch about three or four feet wide and perhaps eight feet deep.  There is small island in the center, on which is placed the carcass of a deer or sheep, or any bait that will tempt the appetite of the wolf.  Slender reeds are placed across the ditch, and they are thinly covered with straw.  This gives it the appearance of the surrounding woods and the wolf does not hesitate to step boldly on the slender bridge, when he lands at the bottom, where he impatiently awaits the arrival of the executioner the next morning.  This pit was dug by Mr. Jacob Paulk and the late Captain Daniel Henderson, when the latter was a young man.  It is one of the relics of the primitive days of Irwin, when steel traps were unknown, or at least not “come-at-able,” and when the red man made forays on this section in quest of the nimble deer and other choice game.

Newspaper accounts document the killing of a notorius wolf in Irwin county in 1878.  The stuffed wolf was displayed at the county fair.

The Irwin County Wolf, 1878.

The Irwin County Wolf, 1878.

The Albany News
May 23, 1878  pg 3

That Irwin County Wolf.

In the north basement of the Main Building [Irwin County Fair] may be seen a stuffed wolf one of the largest ever captured in any forest. It is the famous  ‘Irwin county wolf.’ A card is tacked on the neck of the animal which bears the following:

THE IRWIN COUNTY WOLF. killed November 6th, 1876, by Jacob Tussell, for which he received $150 reward.  The wolf is supposed to have killed 500 head of sheep in Irwin and Coffee counties.

[signed]  M. C. Austin

Even as late as 1908 there were news account of a large wolf in Colquitt county . Wolves are said to have been exterminated in Georgia in th 1960s.

Etheldred Dryden Newbern ~ Pioneer Settler

Etheldred Dryden Newbern was a pioneer settler of Berrien County and a noted participant in the last Indian encounters in Berrien County (see Martha Guthrie: Babe of the Indian Wars).

Monument for Etheldred Dryden Newbern, buried at Wayfare Church Cemetery near Statenville, GA. Newbern was one of the pioneer settlers of Berrien County.

Monument for Etheldred Dryden Newbern, buried at Wayfare Church Cemetery near Statenville, GA. Newbern was one of the pioneer settlers of Berrien County.

The Newbern’s homestead was located on the east bank of Five Mile Creek, perhaps about eight miles northeast of Ray City. This was probably somewhere in the present day vicinity of the Highway 168 bridge over Five Mile Creek.

The Newberns were the nearest neighbors of Short-arm Billy Parker. The Parker place was located a few miles further to the east, at a spring on the Alapaha River. When marauding Indians  came by the Parker place in 1836, Mrs. Parker and her daughters fled to the Newberns:

…the women ran through the field , a back way, a distance of five miles to the home of Dread Newborn.

Arriving there she related what she had seen, as fast as her fright and exhaustion would allow, for she had run every step of the way, and she was almost overcome with heat and fatigue. On learning this Mr. Newbern realized that the cause of their own experiences of the night before when the horses had become greatly frightened, snorting and breaking out of the horse lot and coming back the next morning. It was supposed that they had become frightened at the sight of the Indians who were prowling around the neighborhood to steal.

A company of men soon collected together, under the command of George Peterson, Dread Newborn, William Parker, and others. The Indians were overtaken at the Allapaha river and three were killed, others made their escape but were overtaken at the St. Illa river [Satilla], at what is now known as Indian Lake, about two miles northeast of the town of Axson, Ga. They were all shot and killed, except one squaw; it was reported that she was captured and shot. Dread Newborn, the son of Dread Newborn, who followed the Indians, informs me that the Indian woman was kept in prison for a while and then by direction of the government was returned to her own people.

Etheldred Dryden Newbern, called Dryden or Dred by some, was born 1794 in South Carolina. He was the eldest son of Thomas Newbern.  Folks Huxford said the name of Dryden’s mother was not known, but some Internet genealogies indicate she was Nancy Christian.   Dryden’s grandfather, also called Thomas Newbern, was a revolutionary soldier.

About 1798 Dryden’s father, Thomas Newbern, brought the family from South Carolina to Georgia,  Thomas Newbern served as a lieutenant and captain in the Bulloch County militia.

Dryden’s mother died about 1803 when he was a boy, probably nine or ten years of age.  His father, a widower with seven young children, quickly remarried and Dryden was raised into manhood by his stepmother,  Kizzie Collins.  Some time prior to 1815, Thomas Newbern moved the family to Tatnall County, where he was elected Justice of the Peace.

It is said that Dryden Newbern served in the War of 1812, although no documentation is known to exist other than the testimony of his son, Dred Newbern. Dryden would have been 18 years old at the time the war broke out, and considering the military legacy of his father and grandfather,  his  service in the Georgia Militia seems reasonable.  In 1814, the British forces occupied St. Marys, GA and made investments against Traders Hill, which disrupted the economy of the entire region. It was during this time that Georgia militia cut the Blackshear Road from Fort Early on the Flint River, around the eastern side of the Okefenokee Swamp, to Traders Hill on the St. Mary’s River.  The British occupation certainly interrupted trade on the Alachua Trail which ran from the Altamaha River through Centerville, GA, then across the St. Marys River and into  East Florida. The resistance of the Georgia Militia against the British and St. Marys and other coastal Georgia incursions is described  in the New Georgia Encyclopedia  article on the War of 1812.

About 1823, Thomas Newbern relocated the family again, this time moving to  Appling County and homesteading on a site about five miles northwest of present day Blackshear, GA. Dryden Newbern, now a man of 29, apparently came along with his father to Appling county for there, in 1823, Dryden married.  His bride was Elizabeth  “Betsy” Sirmans, a daughter of Artie Hardeman and Josiah Sirmans, Sr.  Of her father, Huxford wrote, “According to the best available information, the first permanent white settlers in what is now Clinch County were Josiah Sirmans, Sr., and his family.”

About Dryden’s father, Huxford’s History of Clinch County relates the following:

 OF the Clinch County Newberns, Thomas Newbern was the progenitor. This old pioneer came to this section from South Carolina and settled in what is now Ware County, about 1820. He was married twice. By his first marriage he had three children, viz. : John, William C, and Dryden Newbern. By his second marriage he had five children, viz. : George W. Newbern ; Cassie, who first married Martin Nettles and later Chas. A. Griffis; Lucretia, who married Jack Lee ; also a daughter who married James Sweat, and one who married John Sweat. Thomas Newbern was a prominent citizen of his time. He was elected surveyor of Ware County and commissioned February nth, 1828.  Two years later he was elected a justice of the Inferior Court of Ware County, to which he was commissioned April 28th, 1830. He was also commissioned justice of the peace of the 451 district of Ware County, April 3d, 1833. He is the fore-father of many of Clinch’s prominent citizens.

After their marriage in 1823, it appear that Betsy and Dryden Newbern for a time made their home in Appling County, near the homestead of Dryden’s parents. In 1825, their farms were cut into Ware County into the 584th  Georgia Militia District. From 1825 to 1827 Dryden Newbern served as the First Lieutenant of the militia in the 584th district.

About 1828, Betsy and Dryden moved their young family to Lowndes County (now Berrien) to a site on Five Mile Creek.  They established a homestead about  seven or eight miles northeast of the home of Levi J. Knight,  who had settled a few years earlier on Beaver Dam Creek at the site of present day Ray City, GA. In Lowndes County, Dryden was elected First Lieutenant of the militia in the 664th district. Levi J. Knight was the Justice of the Peace in this district.

At that time the land was still unsettled ,  and the Native Americans who had occupied the territory for so long in advance of white settlers were  being driven out of their ancestral lands.  As Wiregrass historian Montgomery Folsom said, ” The Indians were goaded into madness.”  When open conflict with the Indians emerged in 1836,  Dryden Newbern was one of the first responders in the area.  Sending out the alarm when the Parker place on the Alapaha River was raided, he was among the leaders in the skirmish that routed the Indians (see Short-Arm Bill Parker and the Last Indian Fight In Berrien County). In the Indian Wars,  Ethedred Dryden Newbern served as a  private in Captain Levi J. Knights Independent Militia Company.

Huxford says the land on Five Mile Creek where  Betsy and Dryden Newbern established their Berrien County homestead later became the property of John Fender.  The Newberns then  acquired land a few miles to the east and moved there, making a home on the west side of the Alapaha River.   About 1865 they sold this property, which later came into the hands of George N. Sutton, and moved east to Clinch County. They purchased Lot 256 in the 10th Land District and made their home there for  several years.  When their youngest daughter, Sarah “Sallie” Newbern, and  and her husband, William Franklin Kirkland, moved to Echols County, the elderly Newberns moved with them.  In Echols county, the Newberns purchased land and a herd of cattle; the late 1860s and early 1870s were a time of expansion in Georgia livestock production.

In 1874 Etheldred Dryden Newbern suffered a “rupture” and died.  He was buried in an unmarked grave at Wayfare Church, Echols county, GA.  A monument has been placed in the cemetery in his memory.

Children of Etheldred Dryden Newbern and Elizabeth “Betsy” Sirmans:

  1. Benjamin Newbern (1824-1895) married Nancy Griffin, daughter of Noah H. Griffin. In the Civil War enlisted in 9th FL Regiment. Burial at Wayfare Church Cemetery.
  2. Rachel Newbern (1826-) married Ashley Winn and moved to Florida. Burial at New River Cemetery, Bradford County, GA
  3. Thomas “Tom” Newbern (1828-1877) married Elizabeth Moore, daughter of John Moore. In the Civil War enlisted in Company G, 29th GA Regiment as a private in 1861.
  4. Caroline Newbern (1829-1891) married Edward Morris. Burial  at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.
  5. Joseph Newbern (1834 – ) married Emily Gaskins, daughter of John Gaskins.
  6. Martha Newbern (1836-1925) married Samuel Guthrie. Burial at Guthrie Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.
  7. John Ashley Newbern (1839-1864) married Mrs. Sarah Ann Sirmans Gaskins, widow of John Elam Gaskins. In the Civil War joined Company H, 29th GA Regiment. Killed in action near Atlanta, GA in 1864. Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA..
  8. Etheldred Dred Newbern (1844-1933) married Wealthy Corbitt, daughter of Elisha Corbitt. In the Civil War enlisted in Company I, 50th GA Regiment.  Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA..
  9. Berrien A. Newbern (1845-1863) never married. In the Civil War enlisted in Company H, 29th GA Regiment. Died of wounds received in battle in Benton, MS on 26 June 1863. Burial at Arna Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Atkinson County, GA.
  10. Sarah “Sallie” Newbern (1848-1921), born November 7, 1849; married William Franklin Kirkland. Died July 13, 1921. Burial at North Cemetery, Dupont, Clinch County, GA.

Related articles

The case of Joe Wilmot

In January of 1911, word came of bloodshed at the  West Bay Company near Chipley, Florida.  The first mention of the violence was in the local paper:

The Chipley Banner, January 12, 1911

A Mr. May at a turpentine still at West Bay was shot and instantly killed Monday by a negro.  Another man was also wounded. We have been unable to hear any of the particulars.

The company was described by The  Americus Times-Recorder in 1907   as  “the West Bay Naval Stores and Lumber Company, of Florida, the syndicate which recently bought from the J. P. Williams Land Company, of Tallahassee, 44,000 acres of virgin pine and cypress near St. Andrews.  The syndicate is largely composed of Georgia men. ” Headquartered  in Florida, the West Bay Company  was “one of the most extensive timber companies in the South.”

West Bay Naval Stores and Lumber Company, of Florida

West Bay Naval Stores and Lumber Company, of Florida

Valdosta resident Dr. Elbert Pinkney Rose  was a prominent timber man with business interests in the Chipley, FL area.   His involvement in the story  which was reported in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
January 17, 1911  Page 5


One of Them Locked Him in a Room to Whip Him When he Drew Gun and Fired.

Dr. E. P. Rose returned on Saturday morning  from Point Washington , Fla., where he has been for a week or more looking after his interest in that section.  Dr. Rose was in Point Washington when R. S. Mays, of West Bay, and a bookkeeper for the West Bay Naval Stores Company, named Gooding were shot to death by a negro named Joe Wilbur.

       The tragedy occurred at West Bay some distance above Point Washington.  It seems that there were three or four negroes working for the West Bay Naval Stores Company,  who were going to move to Point Washington and work  for Rose and Dasher.  Mr. Mays went to Point Washington to see Dr. Rose about transferring the hands and Dr. Rose paid him the amount that was due his company by three of the negroes.  Mr. Mays told Dr. Rose not to pay him Wilbur’s  account until the wagon was sent to move the negro, as Wilbur was a married negro and Mays said that he could keep matters straighter by settling when he started to move.  A day or two later a wagon was sent to West Bay to move the negroes.  A white man named Postell was in charge of it. After settling with Mays for Wilbur’s account, May told Postell that he wanted to see Wilbur, who at that time was at his shanty packing up his effects.  Postell told Mays that he thought Wilbur was afraid of him and that he didn’t want to come about him.  It is said that Mays became angry and told Postell to move out as quick as he could and not to feed his horses around there.  Mays then started down to the shanty where Wilbur was, the bookkeeper for the West Bay Company following him and begging him not to get in a fuss with the negro or any one else, as he might get hurt.  Mays is said to have remarked that he would look out for that, and went on to the shanty.

      When he reached the shanty he walked in and closed the door behind him and began to strike at the negro who was packing up his goods.  The negro drew his revolver and shot five times, either one of four of the bullets being sufficient to cause death.  The negro then reloaded his revolver and pulled open the door.  Gooding was standing on the steps and fired at the negro, but the negro returned the fire inflicting a wound that caused Gooding’s death.  Gooding was paralyzed by the first shot and in trying to shoot the negro again his pistol fired aimlessly,  the bullet hitting a mule in the thigh.   The animal did not appear to be very badly hurt, but died before reaching Point Washington.  The negro who did the shooting fled from the scene immediately afterwards.  Dr. Rose does not think there would have been any trouble at all if Mr. Mays had not gone to the shanty and began fighting the negro.

An article in the May 18, 1911 edition of the Atlanta Constitution reported on the arrest of the fugitive Willmont at Ray City, Ga.


Willmont Shot Overseer Who It Was Said Was Trying to Whip Him.

Valdosta, Ga., May 17. -(Special.)- Joe Willmont, alias Will Nelson, a negro, charged with the murder of two white men near Chipley, Fla., is in jail here. The man is charged with the killing of Superintendent Mays, of the West Bay Naval Stores Company, of West Bay, Fla., and another employee of the company, a Mr. Goodwin, who were shot to death by the negro last January. Immediately after the tragedy Willmont or Nelson made his way to this section of the state and has been working for a turpentine operator at Ray’s Mill, Ga., for several months. The killing of Mays and Goodwin came about as a result of a whipping Mays tried to administer to the negro when he learned that Willmont was going to quit the employ of his firm. Goin to the negro’s cabin, Mays let himself in and locked the door, when he was shot to death. Goodwin was killed as the negro threw the door open and fired at him.

Sheriff I. C. Avera

Sheriff I. C. Avera

The Valdosta Times gave a more detailed account of the arrest.  After informants reported the whereabouts of the fugitive to Valdosta Chief of Police Calvin Dampier,  Willmont was apprehended in Rays Mill, GA by Berrien County Sheriff I.C. Avera. Willmont was working in Rays Mill in the employ of turpentine operator David Asa Sapp.

The Valdosta Times
May 20, 1911  Page 9


 Negro who Killed two White Men in Florida is in Prison in Valdosta

       Locked in prison here is a negro murderer for whose arrest a reward  of $500 is outstanding.
      The negro is charged with killing two white men, R. S. Mays and D. J. Goodwin, of the West Bay Naval Stores Company, near Chipley, Fla., early in January.   The news of the tragedy was published in the Times at the time and is remembered by the readers of this paper.
      The negro’s name is Joe Willmont, but he has been going by the name of Will Nelson in this section.  He was located at Rays Mill last Friday or Saturday by Chief of Police Dampier.  He was driving a wagon for a turpentine operator, Mr. Sapp, and he was located by accident, though Chief Dampier has received a number of letters in regard to him from Sheriff C. G. Allen, of Chipley, Fla.
       Last Friday Chief Dampier sent a “spotter” to Rays Mill to see if he could not locate a negro who was accused of reckless shooting in this city and who, it was hoped, could by landed in time for the grand jury  to consider him after Recorder Varnedoe finished with him.   This negro could not be found, but the chief’s “spotter” told him that he saw a negro there who was a fugitive from Florida.  The “spotter” knew his name as well as his alias.
      Chief Dampier looked in his “rogue’s gallery” and found the descriptions, as well as the letters which he had received from Florida in regard to the negro.  He then telephoned Sheriff Avera, of Berrien, and asked him if he would not catch him and bring him to Valdosta.  The sheriff replied that he would be glad to do so, as he had business that day at Rays Mill.
     Yesterday morning the Berrien sheriff dropped off at Rays Mill, found Willmont driving a wagon and took him in charge.  Arriving here the sheriff was told who the negro was and what he was wanted for, and that there was a reward of $150 for him, that being the amount which the state of Florida had offered.  Chief Dampier immediately wired to Sheriff Allen and informed him of the negro’s arrest.  The sheriff wired back that the reward for him was  five hundred dollars and that he would come for him at once. 

Charges Against the Negro.

     The negro admits that he shot both of the men and also that he killed Mays, but he does not know whether Goodwin died or not.  He says that Mays came to his shanty, and locked the door on him for the purpose of whipping him and that he shot him because he had done nothing to be whipped for.  He says that he was going to leave Mays employ, but that it was satisfactory to Mays, he thought, but when the wagon came to move him Mays seemed to get mad and decided to beat him.
      At the time of the tragedy The Times learned that the negro had been working for the West Bay Naval Stores Company under Mays, who was superintendent.  Rose and Dasher made a trade with the West Bay people under which several hands were to be exchanged, Willmont being among the number.  Several days after the agreement was made Rose and Dasher’s wagon went over to the West Bay quarters to get Willmont and his effects.  Mays , it is said, wrote them a letter showing that the transfer was all right, but stated to the driver of wagon that he wanted to give Willmont a “beating before he left.”  Mays is said to have gone to the negro’s  house and locked himself in it with the negro. The shooting followed and Mays was killed.
     The negro  ran from the house and Goodwin fired at him, the bullet hitting the door.  The negro shot him down and continued his flight.  Goodwin died a few days later.
     An officer will come from Florida as soon as requisition papers can be secured for the fugitive.  The negro shot him down and continued his flight.  Goodwin died a few days later.
     It is said that the slayer has been living in this section ever since then, though the fact was not known until Chief Dampier got onto him last Friday.
     An officer will come from Florida as soon as requisition papers can be secured for the fugitive.  The negro is between twenty-five and thirty years of age, is of medium size, black, not bad looking, but is said to be desperate.  He does not like the idea of going back to Florida, as he is afraid of being lynched.

Sheriff Charles G. Allen, of Chipley, FL, came to Valdosta to take custody of Willmont.

The Chipley Banner., May 18, 1911

Sheriff Allen left last night for Valdosta, Ga., to get Joe Wilmot, the negro who murdered Messrs Mays and Godwin, at West Bay, a few months ago.

The Valdosta Times
May 30, 1911  Page 3


Sheriff Allen Came up Today and got the Murderer of Mays and Gooding.

 (From  Fridays Daily)

       Sheriff Allen of Washington county, Florida, reached this city [Valdosta, GA] this morning with requisition papers authorizing him to get Joe Wilmont, the negro who is wanted for the murder of R.D. Mays and D. J. Gooding, near Chipley, Fla.
      Sheriff Allen says that it is a very small county, but that this negro makes eight murderers in jail there to be tried at the next term of court.
      He also says that from what he understands the killing of the two men was  almost unprovoked and that there is a serious case against the negro.
      It is learned from another source that the reward for the negroe is about $500 of which $200 of the amount was offered by the widow of the dead man.  The company for which he worked also offered a reward and the state offered a reward of $150.
      It is said that May had $5000, accident insurance on his life, but the company will not pay the claim until the negro has been tried and it has been proven whether or not the killing was due to recklessness on the part of Mays or was a case of pure murder.  If the evidence shows that Mays was murdered the Company will be liable for the insurance, but if it is found that he was killed by the negro in self defense it will claim that it is not liable.
      It is said that the negro shot Mays three times after Mays had fallen to the ground.  The negro does not claim that Mays  tried to whip him but he says that he thought Mays was going to try it and that is the reason that he killed him.

The trial of Joe Willmont was not concluded until March of 1912

The Chipley Banner
March 28, 1912 Pg 8

Joe Welmont, the negro who murdered Mr. Mays on West Bay about a year ago, was convicted of murder in the first degree last week and will probably be given a life sentence.

Related Posts:

Geraldine Giddens

Geraldine Giddens, 1944, G.S.W.C. Sophomore

Geraldine Giddens, 1944, G.S.W.C. Sophomore


Geraldine Giddens was a resident of Ray City, GA in the 1940s while she attended Georgia State Womens College in Valdosta, GA (now Valdosta State University).


Born Geraldine Hester Fletcher on February 2, 1924, she was a daughter of Eliza Carter and Zachariah Fletcher. She spent her childhood in Dasher, GA just south of Valdosta.

Geraldine Fletcher married Norvell “Joe” Giddens, and the young couple made their home at Ray City, GA.  He was a son of Emma Ward and Albert Sidney Giddens, of Cook County.

Geraldine Fletcher Giddens was a resident of Ray City, GA while attending Georgia State Women's College during the 1940s.

Geraldine Fletcher Giddens, 1943 freshman class photo, Georgia State Womens College. She was a resident of Ray City, GA while attending G.S.W.C. during the 1940s.

In 1944, Geraldine Giddens was a member of the Sociology Club at G.S.W.C.


The Sociology Club, composed of the majors and minors in this field, has carried on a variety of activities during the 1943-44 year.
    One meeting in each quarter was devoted to the rolling of bandages at the Red Cross room.
    A dance was sponsored for the benefit of the War Bond Scholarship Fund, and a War Savings Stamp was brought to each meeting by all members.  A donation to the Chapel Fund was made from the club treasury.
    The club became foster parent s to a refugee child in a colony in England by a $50 contribution which provides a bed for the child for a year.
    An agency membership was taken out in the Georgia COnference on Social Welfare for 1944, and the issues of the  bulletin “Georgia Welfare” received from the Conference were donated to the  library.
    Programs during the year were related to various concerns in the field of social work.  Outside speakers were brought in whenever possible.

“LANCASTER, Calif. — Geraldine Hester Fletcher Giddens, 87, of Lancaster, Calif., formerly of Valdosta, Ga., passed away Tuesday, April 19, 2011. Arrangements are handled by Halley Olsen Murphy Funeral Home, Lancaster, Calif. — Halley Olsen Murphy Funeral Home”

Geraldine Fletcher Giddens

Geraldine Fletcher Giddens

“Granny Giddens was born on February 2, 1924. She went home to be with the Lord on April 19, 2011. She grew up in Valdosta, Georgia with a large happy family of 10 siblings. Moved to California in 1955. Lancaster became her home in 1968. Granny had 3 children. Jerry and Joey Giddens that she missed very much and her daughter Shirley Griffiths of Lancaster. She had several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Her happiest memories were taking care of them. Work of any kind made Grannys day, she needed to be busy. Over the years she had worked at Howard Johnsons, Mayflower Gardens and Whole Wheatery. Later in life she kept busy having garage sales and making sure Panache Salon was clean and orderly. Her daily visits to the senior center for lunch and their bus trips were a blessing. Her down home strength and life lessons will take us through, this sad time and will help us to continue to grow. Granny was loved and will be missed by all that knew her.


M. W. Henderson and the Wreck of the G & F

Manassah W. Henderson

Manassah W. Henderson, Ray City, GA resident and husband of the evangelist Rebecca J. Henderson ( seeArson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA), was injured in a Valdosta train wreck in the summer of 1910.  He was traveling on the Georgia and Florida train, the new railroad built through Ray City in 1909.

 The train was wrecked when an engine of the Georgia Southern & Florida railroad collided with the passenger car of the Georgia & Florida  (see 1910 Train Wreck in Valdosta, GA).

Many of the injured were taken to the Halcyon Sanitarium. The Halcyon was the second hospital in Valdosta, and was said to have the finest operating facilities.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906.  The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Halcyon Sanitorium, Valdosta, GA ca. 1906. The Halcyon, located at Troupe and Rogers Streets ,was the second hospital to open in Valdosta. Built as the home of W.B. Johnson in 1898, it was converted into a hospital by Doctor J.B.S. Holmes in 1906. In 1911 it was sold to another group of physicians and was known as Bellevue. It operated until 1915.

The Valdosta Times
July 2, 1910  Page 2


A Georgia Southern and Florida  Engine Ran Into a Georgia and Florida Passenger Coach,  Knocking it Fifty Feet and Bruising Up Many Of The Passengers, This Morning

   A serious wreck occurred at the crossing of the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida railroads shortly before eleven o’clock this morning, injuring ten or twelve passengers more or less severely, almost demolishing the rear coach on the Georgia and Florida train which was pulling out for Madison, and badly damaging the front part of a Georgia Southern and Florida locomotive, which ran into the passenger train.

     Among those hurt in the collision were Mrs. F. R. Daniels and her little daughter, Juanita, of this city [Valdosta], Mrs. W. F. Martin, of Madison, Messrs.  J. W. West, W. T. Lane, G. M. Boyd, W. T. Staten, and Dan Thompson, of Valdosta, M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill and Conductor, R. L. Lofton.  There were a few others who were slightly injured but whose names it was impossible to get in the excitement attending the wreck.

   The first news of the collision received up town came in a telephone message from the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Co.’s plant to Ham Brothers’ stables, asking them to send all the carriages in their place to the crossing of the two roads.  It was stated that a wreck had occurred there and that several people had been killed. 

     Intense excitement was created on the streets, the first rumors indicating that the wreck was much more serious than it really was.   A number of physicians were rushed to the scene and a great crowd soon gathered around the overturned coach and the big locomotive which lay with its wheels on one side buried in the earth.

     It is stated that the passenger train on the Georgia and Florida the Valdosta, Moultrie and Western train both reached the crossing about the same time, and both stopped as required by the rules.  The Madison train the pulled across the crossing, all of the train except the last coach —————–overturned ————- passengers in every direction, and was hurled or slided about sixty feet down the track, the coupling to the train then breaking and leaving one end of the coach lying across the Georgia Southern and Florida tracks, while the other end rested on the track of the Georgia and Florida.

     Many of the passengers were thrown through the windows of the overturned coach, while others made their way or were assisted from the ends of the car.  Practically every window and ventilator in the car  was smashed and a shower of flying glass struck the passengers in their faces.

     Many carriages were on the scene in a few minutes, and those passengers who were unable to walk were hastily taken to the carriages and were carried to their homes and to the hospitals for medical attention.

     The passengers sitting on the north side of the car saw the Georgia Southern and Florida engine as it bore down upon the train, and realized that a collision was inevitable, but they had barely time to clutch their seats or to more than move across the car when the impact came.

    Some of the witnesses state that apparently Engineer Burch, in charge of the G. S. and F. engine made every effort to stop, but that he had on sand in his box and that the wheels slid when he threw on the brakes.  The tracks were wet and the locomotive was going down grade, rendering it impossible, according to them, for the locomotive to be stopped in time.  Other persons state that apparently Engineer Burch did not see the train at all and that no effort was made to stop his engine.  As to which of these theories is correct The Times has no way now of knowing.

     There seems to be a wide difference of opinion as to the speed the locomotive was making.  In the opinion of some of those who saw the collision, the locomotive was moving only about six or eight miles an hour, while others think it was moving  at a much faster rate.

     The wreck occurred in an rather dangerous locality, owing to the fact that the shops of the Valdosta Foundry and Machine Company, obstructs from  the view of the trains coming from the north, a view of the tracks around the curve immediately east of the crossing.  Owing to this fact it may be that Engineer Burch did not see the Georgia and Florida train until it was on the crossing.

      The drawhead on the locomotive fastened in the car, and the pull exerted on it by the Madison train, is said to be the cause of the derailment of the engine.  The force of the collision itself was hardly sufficient to have thrown it from the track.  The tracks of both roads for a distance of a hundred feet or more, were torn and twisted, and both lines effectually blocked for several hours.

     Mr. W. T. Staten’s injuries are said to be very serious, but it is impossible at the hour The Times goes to press for the physicians to determine fully their extent.  His shoulder and left side are badly hurt, and it is feared that he has sustained internal injuries.

     Mrs. F. R. Daniel was bruised and severely shocked, while her little daughter’s face was cut and bruised in several places.  Their injuries are not believed to be serious.

     Mrs. F. L. Martin, of Madison, suffered injuries to her side and shoulder, and is suffering from the shock.

     Mr. Andrew Leslie, of Pinetta, Fla., had one bone in his left leg broken.

     Mr. Whittington, of Boston, Ga., had his left ear severely cut and was hurt in the left side.

     Capt. Lofton, Georgia and Florida conductor, was cut in the face and larynx.

     Rev. Mr. Funk of Ohio, shocked and bruised, injuries not serious.

     Mr. M. W. Henderson, of Ray’s Mill, hurt on the head, side and hip.

     Mr. J. W. West, was cut on the face, and severely bruised in the side.

     Mr. G. M. Boyd was severely bruised in one shoulder and side.  His injuries are not thought to be serious.

     Mr. W. T. Lane was cut in the face and neck, and one of his shoulders and hips badly hurt.

     A few of the passengers came out of the overturned car without a scratch, but the experience was one that none of them ———— of Mr. —————-and——————W. Sinclair from instant death was almost miraculous.  They were sitting together on the north side of the train, and started to rise as they saw the locomotive bearing down on them.  Both of them were thrown across the car and through the window to the ground, as the car turned over on them.  Fortunately they fell in an excavation, and this prevented the car from crushing them to death.

      Mr. West lost his pocket book in the wreck, containing some money and many valuable papers, the latter of no value except to himself, however.

      Most of the injured were carried to the Halcyon sanitorium [sic] for treatment,  Dr. Holmes being surgeon at this point for both the Georgia Southern and Florida and the Georgia and Florida.

                Freight Wrecked at Chula.

      The Georgia Southern passenger train due here [Valdosta] about five o’clock this morning was delayed about five hours at Chula by the wreck of a freight train, south bound.  It is said that two or three miles of trains were tied up there by the wreck.   The passenger train reached this city about half past ten o’clock and the loose engine which ran into the Georgia and Florida train was on its way to the coal chute, having run back from the depot to the main line and was rolling slowly down the main line towards the coal chute when it struck the Georgia and Florida train on the crossing.

Love Story of Rebecca J. Fox

Rebecca J. Henderson ~ Traveling Evangelist
Rebecca J. Fox

Traveling evangelists were a prominent part of the religious life in Ray’s Mill.  In November of 1909 evangelist Rebecca J. Fox came to Ray’s Mill, Georgia to preach to gospel.  It was here that Fox’s gospel tent was burned by vandals (see Arson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA.) Here also, she met the widower Manassah Henderson and within a month the two were married.

Mrs. Henderson later published the story of her evangelical work. Excerpts of her experiences in Ray’s Mill are related below. (see the entire text at http://www.archive.org/details/mrsrebeccajhende00hendiala)

Manassah W. Henderson met evangelist Rebecca J. Fox while attending a 1909 revival at Ray City, GA

Manassah W. Henderson met evangelist Rebecca J. Fox while attending a 1909 revival at Ray City, GA

Mrs. Rebecca J. Henderson’s Experience In Twenty-Six Years of Christian Work.

After I received the Baptism the Lord would not allow me to make any solicitation or to take up an offering in meetings for months, that He might lead me by His Spirit and providence. After holding tent meetings about ten weeks in Jacksonville, Fla., Brother R. T. Waldrup came after me on the 29th of September, 1909, and escorted me to his home in Valdosta, Georgia, where I had been invited to rest and work with them in the Pentecostal Mission as long as I would.

After spending some weeks in their delightful home at 913 Patterson street, Brother M. C. Griffin, a cousin of Mr. Henderson’s, came and invited me to come to his home, Ray’s Mill, Georgia, and hold a tent meeting.

During this time I received my letters back from Mr. Fox, and at the same time I received a letter from Mr. Henderson written in a spirit of great tenderness thanking me for the spiritual help I had been to him. He was converted in my meeting at Ray’s Mill.

In this letter he spoke of the desolations of his home, since the death of his dear wife, and two precious children some years ago by typhoid fever. And said, his young lady daughter and his two young sons were all that were at home now, and they were very lonely, and they all desired that I should spend the Christmas holidays with them. He attended the meetings often, and we carried on a correspondence for a few weeks.

One morning the Lord gave me a vision of Mr. Henderson’s and Brother Crosby’s faces. They both came to Ray’s Mill that morning to services. As they approached the house Mr. Henderson said, “Get ready to go back with us we have come after you. We want you to make us a visit and rest a while before your meeting begins at Willacoochee.” I went with them, “doubting nothing, for He had sent them.” Acts 10:20. We left the meeting with Brother Griffin…

The following is extracts from my adopted daughter’s letter written at this time.

Mist, Arkansas,
December 22, 1909.
Dear Mama:I received your letter last night and was pleased and surprised also as I read through its contents; and then took a long breath and read it the second time.I do hope and pray if you and Mr. Henderson marry that you will be happy for you deserve to be. I would not be surprised if you aren’t Mrs. Henderson by now. I do hope he will be better to you than Fox.Now, won’t you look, step-mother of nine children. Ha, Ha, you are about to get ahead of me. My two, though they are so small they nearly get the best of me.******I am not going to write much for I know you won’t have time to read much.

Miss Maggie Henderson is right sweet looking, I do hope they will treat you O. K., and you will be as “snug as a bug in a rug.”

We have had such a cold spell, snow is six inches deep. It certainly has been cold. I have been hugging the fire ever since the snow.

I am sending you a sofa pillow cover for your new home.

Well, dear, wishing you many merry Christmases and many many Happy Years, bye-bye now. With lots of love and congratulations.


When Mr. Henderson told me as soon as there was a guardian appointed for his minor children, and his two youngest placed in school he would be ready and glad to go with me any where the Lord lead in this country or to the islands of the sea and assist me in every way possible in spreading the Gospel if I would be his wife The Lord made me know that he was the one He intended to go with me.

After fasting and praying, I told him if it really was His will that Mr. Henderson and I should marry to let it be known by having it so that Pastor Mahon could come from Jacksonville, Fla., to my dear, sweet friend, Sister Waldup’s house, in Valdosta, Ga., to unite us in marriage. I wrote him and received the following telegram:

Jacksonville, Fla.,
December 18, 1909.

Mrs. R. J. Fox,
913 N. Patterson St.,
Valdosta, Ga.

Expect me on Georgia Southern tonight at 11:30.




We were united in marriage by my beloved pastor, W. L. C. Mahon, pastor of the Main Street Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., at Brother and Sister R. T. Waldrup’s Pentecostal Home, 913 North Patterson street, Valdosta, Ga., Dec. 19, 1909. In the midst of a Pentecostal service, Brother Frank Denny the sweet singer and Pentecostal evangelist, delivered the message much of which was set to music. My husband is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church at Willacoochee, Coffee County, Georgia.

A few days after we were married we closed up the house and we all took a pleasant trip.

Mr. Henderson took me to Jacksonville, Fla., and went in person and thanked those who had shown me kindness. We visited his children who are settled in homes of their own, and his old friends and relatives, who showed us every kindness that affection could suggest, until we were made to say: “The Lord has dealt by us, as He did by His servant Job, rendering us double for all He had taken from us.” We have four sturdy sons, and six beautiful daughters living and five sons-in-law.

The following is extracts from my adopted daughter’s letter written during this time:

Mist, Arkansas,
January 3, 1910.

My Dear Mama:

I will have to begin my letter with an apology, for not answering your letter announcing your marriage sooner, which,of course, calls for congratulations. I have a “iti bitsie” excuse, however, that is I have been almost run to death with company during the Christmas holidays. I had a nice Christmas but with a house full of company one can’t find much time for letter writing. I started this letter New Year’s day or I got as far as the date written down, but Ethel was so fretful I had to give it up and take her. You will have to consider that blot a “big, old” kiss and maybe it will not look so ugly. I wrote you last New Year’s day, for I remember I said in my letter, “I will start the year right by writing to you.” But, mama dear, I feel so much better over your welfare this year than I did last for I think you have a good husband to be with you now, and I truly hope and pray so, and last year you were just a lonely little woman out by yourself away from those you love. I am certainly thankful you are prospering so well. 

Mama, if I have been slow in answering your letter announcing your marriage, you have my sincerest wishes for your happiness; and if my congratulation is late in reaching you be assured it is none the less heartfelt and earnest. As I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with my “new papa” I can not say so many pleasant things about him as I am certain he deserves, but I know you well enough to unhesitatingly say that the man of your choice must be one of honor and courage. Now, mama, you must not get the “big head” you are dressing so fine and having such a trip I am afraid your head will get to swimming.

Well, mama, I would love to see you and talk to you, but Iam glad you are so happy and getting along O. K. Now, as Iwant to write to Mr. Henderson I will close for now, with lots of love from your daughter,


P. S. The presents were beautiful. I was very pleased with my pretty waist, and Norma and Ethel thought their dolls fine.

Mr . Henderson is a member of a prominent family of Irwin county and lived at Willacoochee. He had spent most fifty years in great wickedness. He attended a tent meeting I was holding at Ray’s Mill, before the tent was burned by the enemies of this Gospel. He came to the meeting to investigate this doctrine, and came under its power at once, and the appetite for liquor and tobacco was taken from him. “And God who knoweth the hearts bear him witness, giving him the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us, purifying his heart by faith.” And now he is devoting his means and life to the spread of this Gospel.

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Dicey Guthrie Watson

Dicey Guthrie was a Berrien native who lived in the county all of her life. And apparently all her life there was disagreement over the spelling of her first name, which appears variously as Dicey, Dicy, Dicie, or Disy.

Dicey Guthrie Watson. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Dicey Guthrie Watson. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

She was born January 16, 1867, a daughter of Martha Newbern and Samuel Guthrie, and grew up in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the Rays Mill district.  Her father was one of the men who hunted down the Berrien Tiger in 1849. He was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in the 54th Georgia Regiment.

Ray City History reader Dinah Harrison Watson shared that Dicey Guthrie married William Henry Watson in 1881.  They were married August 24 of that year in Berrien county, GA.


Family of William Henry Watson. (Left to Right) James Pleasent Watson, Mark Mitchell Watson, William Henry Watson, Samuel Solomon Watson, Dicy Guthrie Watson, Martha Watson Patten, Isaac Linton Watson. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Family of William Henry Watson. (Left to Right) James Pleasent Watson, Mark Mitchell Watson, William Henry Watson, Samuel Solomon Watson, Dicy Guthrie Watson, Martha Watson Patten, Isaac Linton Watson. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Dicey and William Watson made their home on the Ray City and Mud Creek road northeast of Rays Mill in the Empire Church community, in that part of Berrien county that was later cut into Lanier County. About Mr. Watson, the Tifton Gazette said in the winter of 1903-04, “Mr. W. H. Watson has killed forty-nine porkers, of very good average, this season. Mr. Watson is one of our hustling farmers.”

Children of Dicey Guthrie and William Henry Watson were:

  • Samuel Solomon Watson 1884 –
  • Mary Martha Watson 1886 –
  • Mark Mitchell Watson 1889 –
  • Isaac Linton Watson 1891 –
  • James Pleasant Watson 1898 – 1989


The Clinch County News
January 16, 1953

    Mrs. Dicy Watson, widow of the late W. H. Watson, age 86, of Berrien County, died New Years’ Day.  She was a daughter of Samuel and Martha Newbern Guthrie, pioneers of Berrien County.  She was married in 1881 to Mr. Watson.  Their home was in the Empire Church community, and burial was at that church.  She was a faithful member of Empire Church.  Four sons survive, also one brother, Colly Guthrie of Jacksonville.

Gravemarkers of Dicey Guthrie and William Henry Watson, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Gravemarkers of Dicey Guthrie and William Henry Watson, Empire Cemetery, Lanier County, GA


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William Greene Avera Is Laid To Rest

William Green Avera (1855-1944) and Benjamin Gaskins (left) photographed at Irene Church, Lanier County, GA.  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Green Avera (1855-1944) and Benjamin Gaskins (left) photographed at Irene Church, Lanier County, GA. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William Green Avera was a local educator who received national attention for his innovative teaching methods.

Professor Avera died January 10, 1944. His obituary ran on the front page of the Clinch County News:

Obituary of William Green Avera, Clinch County News, Jan 14, 1944.

Obituary of William Green Avera, Clinch County News, Jan 14, 1944.

The Clinch County News
January 14, 1944 Pg 1

William Avera is Laid to Rest

    Funeral services were held this morning at 11 o’clock (Wednesday) at the Irene Primitive Baptist church in Lanier county [see map] for William Greene Avera, pioneer educator of South Georgia who died at his rural home East of Nashville on Monday afternoon.  He was 88 years of age.
    As a mark of respect all the schools of Berrien county were closed for the funeral services.  Mr. Avera served as superintendent of the Berrien county schools for twenty years and form more than half a century he taught in the schools of Berrien and other counties in south Georgia.
    His second wife, Mrs. Margaret Avera. and one son, Bryant Avera, both of Berrien county and 13 grandchildren and a number of great grandchildren survive.
    Mr. Avera’s first wife was Miss Eliza Jane Sirmans.  There were 11 children from this union.  Mrs. Avera died in 1905 and in 1911 he was married to Miss Margaret McMillan.
    Pallbeareres at the funeral this morning were grandsons of Mr. Avera.  They were: Waldo Avera and W. R. Roberts, of Jacksonville, Fla., Albert Griner, Phiniza Avera and Saron Parr, of Nashville.
    The funeral services were conducted by Elder Orvill Knight.
    Mr. Avera was the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Steven Willis Avera of Clinch county.  When he was a young child the family moved to Berrien county. 
    Mr. Avera died in the home in which he lived for 60 years.

Irene Church, 2011, Lanier County, GA

Irene Church, 2011, Lanier County, GA

For additional views of Irene Church see Irene Primitive Baptist Church

Grave of William Green Avera, Avera Cemetery, near Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Avera Cemetery map on Find-a-Grave

Leila Clements and Lawrence Luke

Leila Clements

The January 12, 1913 edition of the Clinch County News announced the marriage of Leila Clements, of Ray City, and Lawrence Luke, of Nashville, GA.

NASHVILLE, GA.     Miss Leila O. Clements and Mr. Lawrence Luke, of Nashville, were united in marriage at the home of the bride, near Ray’s mill.  The bride is a daughter of Mr. Joseph Clements.  Mr. and Mrs. Luke will reside here.    Miss Alice King and Mr. Carl Register, of Masssee, were united in marriage.  The ceremony was performed by Rev. T. B. McCranie.    Another marriage which took place at Massee was that of Miss Lilious Foy to Mr. Albert Newborn.      Miss Nell Bullard was a recent visitor to this city.    Mrs. M. M. Moore and little daughter of Nacona, Texas, are visiting here.  They are the guests of Mrs. F. S. Lee.

Leila Clements was a daughter of Martha Elizabeth Sirmans and Joseph Seaphus Clements, and a granddaughter of David G. and Jincy Clements. Leila’s father was a farmer, but she and the other Clements children all attended school.

Wedding announcement of Leila O. Clements and Lawrence Luke appeared in the Atlanta Constitution, January 12, 1913.

Wedding announcement of Leila O. Clements and Lawrence Luke appeared in the Atlanta Constitution, January 12, 1913.

Joseph S. Clements home, just north of Ray City, circa 1905. Standing on the porch, left to right, Leila, Decanter, Bessie, Quinton, Martha E. Sirmans Clements, and Joseph S. Clements. Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Lawrence Dupont Luke was a lawyer and former teacher from Nashville, GA. He was tall, dark and handsome, a slender man with grey eyes and black hair. He was a son of Oscar Bartow Luke and “Mattie” Martha Jane Walker, and a grandson of David Perry Luke.

In 1917, Lawrence and Leila Luke were living in Douglas, GA, where Lawrence practiced law, while Leila kept house and tended their young children, Chester and James.

Later, Leila and Lawrence made their home in Alma, GA. where they owned a house on Dixon Street. Their next door neighbor was hotel operator Elizabeth Dixon.

Lawrence D. Luke died in 1926 and was buried at the old city cemetery, Nashville, GA. Leila Clements Luke died in 1961 and was buried next to her husband.  Upon their deaths Chester and James Luke were buried in adjacent graves.

Grave of Leila Clements Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Leila Clements Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Lawrence D. Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Lawrence D. Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA


Grave of Chester K. Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of Chester K. Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of James Lawrence Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

Grave of James Lawrence Luke, Old City Cemetery, Nashville, GA

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