Bessie Johnson: Lady in Red

Bessie G. Johnson (1911-2005), a daughter of Chloe Gardner and James Howard Pascal Johnson, came to Ray City, GA with her parents some time before 1918. She grew to womanhood in Ray City and on August 15, 1932 married Robert Lawton LeSueur from Americus, Georgia.

There is a family story concerning Bessie as a young bride,  “about a red dress she once had when she first married Robert Lawton LeSueur from Americus, Georgia.  Gramma Bess bought a red dress from the local clothier back in the day. Granddaddy Lawton made her return it because ‘she was too beautiful in it.’ He meant it. She never wore a red dress again.”

In a nod to the “lady in red”  an old photo of Bessie Johnson holding her brother, Maurice, was colorized to illustrate a family cookbook compiled few years ago.

Bessie Gardner Johnson with brother, Maurice Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Colorized photo of Bessie Gardner Johnson with brother, Maurice Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

From Julie Hutson’s Waiting on the Bread cookbook, comes a personal recipe of Bessie Gardner Johnson:

Bessie’s Squirrel Stew
Bess Johnson LeSueur’s infamous recipes! Not for the faint of heart!

ingredients

Squirrel Preparation:Dress three young squirrels and let soak for several hours in water with one tsp. salt. Transfer to pot, cover with water (add red pepper pod, if you have one) and bring to a boil. Simmer until meat is tender. Pull meat from bones. Strain liquid to avoid small bones. Put all together in pot.

Add:
2 cans of tomatoes
2 large onions (chopped fine)

DIRECTIONS
Cook Slowly for one hour, covered.
Add:
1.   Juice of one lemon

2.   dash of hot sauce

3.   1/2 stick oleo

4.   2-3 tblsp. Worcestershire sauce

5.   1 cup ketchup

6.   salt and pepper to taste

Let simmer 30 minutes. Add 1 can yellow creamed corn. Simmer a few minutes longer (about 10 minutes), stirring all the time to keep it from sticking. You may add more seasons, if you like. The longer it simmers, the better. If it is too thin, add some bread cubes. Serve with bread, pickles. slaw and potato chips.

Bessie Gardner Johnson LeSeur died on January 31, 2005.  Her obituary appeared in the Cordele Dispatch.

Bess Johnson

Bess Johnson

 

Cordele Dispatch
February 1, 2005
Cordele, GA

AMERICUS, GA.  Mrs. Bess Johnson LeSueur, 93, died Monday Jan. 31, 2005, at Magnolia Manor Nursing Center.  Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 2, in the chapel of Hancock Funeral Home with the Rev. Rusty Mauldin officiating.  Internment will follow in Oak Grove Cemetery.  The deacons of the First Baptist Church are requested to serve as honorary pallbearers.

Mrs. LeSueur, a native of Dupont, was born Aug. 1, 1911, a daughter of the late Joseph Henry Paschal Johnson and Chloe Ann Gardner Johnson.

Mrs. LeSueur, a loving mother and grandmother, was a member of the First Baptist Church, the Junior Service League and the Day Lily Garden Club. She was a member and past regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Council of Safety Chapter.

The family will receive friends from 6-8 p.m. today, Feb. 1, at Hancock Funeral Home.  Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society c/o Mrs. Ann Harris, 1801 Rose Ave., Americus GA 31709 or to First Baptist Church, 211 S. Lee St., Americus GA 31709

Survivors include a daughter, JoAnn LeSueur Chappell of Americus; a son Ronald Carey LeSueur of Florida; a daughter-in-law, Claudia Sims LeSueur of Americus; two brother and sisters-in-law, Bruce and Myrtle Johnson of Callahan, Fla., and Maurice and Frances Johnson of Carrollton; grandchildren, Michele and Tommy Holman of Canton, Camille Swain of Woodstock, Robert Lawton LeSueur III, William McCall Calhoun Jr., Anne Davis and Mary Calhoun, all of Americus and Virginia and James Morton of Athens.

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Coffee’s Road Passed Seven Miles West of Ray City

The construction of one of the early roads in Wiregrass Georgia, running from Jacksonville, GA  down to Florida, was at the direction of the Georgia Assembly.  The Wiregrass was then an untamed wilderness on the nation’s southern frontier. Bill Outlaw’s  Georgia Centennial Farm application for the W. H. Outlaw farm observes,

“Tellingly, when the advisability of funding Coffee Road was debated in the Georgia Legislature in the 1820s, a legislator asked why Man should build a road through land that God Almighty had not finished building yet.”

But the military road constructed by John Coffee and Thomas Swain in 1823 became the first route opening up the south central Georgia to pioneer settlers (see Daniel McCranie). Coffee’s road, as it was soon known, passed through the site of present day Nashville, GA and on southward to the Florida line, approaching only about seven miles west of the point where Levi J. Knight first settled on Beaver Dam Creek, the site of present day Ray City, GA.

John Coffee, builder of Coffee Road, earliest vehicular and postal route of this section.

John Coffee, builder of Coffee Road, earliest vehicular and postal route of this section.

The Act to authorize construction of the road was passed in December of 1822.

1822 Act authorizing construction of the Coffee Road

1822 Act authorizing construction of the Coffee Road

AN ACT

To alter and amend the eighth section of an act, entitled an act to amend the road laws of this state, passed the nineteenth day of December, eighteen hundred and eighteen.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and after the passing of this act, all overseers of roads appointed in pursuance of the before recited act, shall cause their respective roads to be cleared twenty feet wide, except market roads, which shall be cleared thirty feet wide, and shall cause all causeways to be made sixteen feet wide. Any thing contained in the said section of the said act to the contrary notwithstanding.

ALLEN DANIEL,
Speaker of the House of Representatives.

MATTHEW TALBOT,
President of the Senate.

Assented to December 21, 1822

JOHN CLARK, Governor.

________

AN ACT

Tq authorise the opening of a Road from the Alapaha to the Florida
line.

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That from and immediately after the passage of this act his excellency the Governor be, and he is hereby authorised to appoint two fit and proper persons to superintend the opening of a road to commence on the Alapaha at or near Cunningham’s ford on said river, passing through districts number ten, twelve and thirteen in the county of Irwin, and number eighteen and twenty-three in the county of Early, pursuing the best and most practicable route until it intersects the Florida line near the Oclockney river.

Roads, Bridges, and Ferries. 97

Sec. 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, That the sum of fifteen hundred dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated to carry the above recited section into effect.

ALLEN DANIEL,
Speaker of the House of Representatives,

MATTHEW TALBOT,
President of the Senate..

Assented to December 23, 1822.                                           .

JOHN CLARK, Governor.

The historic marker in Nashville, GA reads:

The Old Coffee Road, earliest vehicular and postal route of this section, running southwestward from the Ocmulgee River to the Florida Line, passed through today’s Lax, Nashville, Cecil, Barwick and Thomasville. The thoroughfare was opened by direction of the State in 1823 under supervision of Gen. John Coffee and Thomas Swain. Over this pioneer route the products of the region were carried to the coast to be sold and imported goods brought back. Sections of the original route are in use today.

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

Coffee Road Historic Marker, Nashville GA

About John Coffee, builder of Coffee’s Road, historian Lucian Lamar Knight wrote:

John Coffee, Indian fighter, planter and congressman, was born in the State of Virginia, in 1780, and when a small boy his father moved with his family to Hancock County, Georgia. He was not associated with General Jackson in his campaigns, as was his cousin and namesake of Tennessee, but later on he became a personal friend of that distinguished man. His military services appear to have been rendered to the State of Georgia in connection mainly with the Indian troubles of the first twenty-five years of the nineteenth century. In his youth he moved from Hancock County to Telfair County. Most of his military service was rendered in South Georgia and Florida, and as it was a wilderness country, he is said to have cut out and built a road for the transport of his munition and supplies, which for half a century was known as the “Old Coffee Road,” and a part of it is recognized on the records of the state as the boundary line of Berrien and Coffee counties. The latter county was organized and named in honor of General Coffee by the Georgia Legislature in 1854. He served his county for several terms in the State Legislature, and this, combined with his military record, brought him into prominence as one of the leading men of the state, so that in 1832 he was elected to the Twenty-third Congress. In 1834 he was re-elected to the Twenty-fourth Congress, and was a useful, though not a showy member of Congress, but from the time of his entry into the House his health was infirm and steadily grew worse, so that on September 25, 1836, he died at his home four miles southeast of Jacksonville, and was buried there.

The Biographical Directory of the United States Congress gives the following bio:

COFFEE, John, a Representative from Georgia; born in Prince Edward County, Va., December 3, 1782; moved with his father to a plantation near Powelton, Hancock County, Ga., in 1800; settled in Telfair County in 1807 and engaged in agricultural pursuits; general of the State militia during the Creek War; cut a road through the State of Georgia (called Coffee Road) to carry munitions of war to Florida Territory to fight the Indians; member of the State senate 1819-1827; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses and served from March 4, 1833, until his death; was reelected to the Twenty-fifth Congress on October 3, 1836, announcement of his death not having been received; died on his plantation near Jacksonville, Telfair County, Ga., on September 25, 1836; interment on his plantation near Jacksonville, Ga.; reinterment in McRae Cemetery, McRae, Ga., in 1921.

Grave of John Coffee, builder of Coffee's Road, died 1836, reinterred in McRae Cemetery, McRae, Ga., in 1921

Grave of John Coffee, builder of Coffee’s Road, died 1836, reinterred in McRae Cemetery, McRae, Ga., in 1921

For more about the history of Coffee Road and the portions that are still in service today, see the research of Ed Cone at:

http://www.edconefamily.com/coffee-rd.htm

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Big Thumb McCranie was First Postmaster of Lowndes

On this date, one hundred and eighty-five years ago, March 27, 1827, the first post office in Lowndes County was established at the home of Daniel McCranie on the Coffee Road. The McCranie post office, situated on the only real “road” in the county, was perhaps a fifty mile round trip  from the point to the east where Levi J. Knight settled, at present day Ray City, GA.

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie had come to this area of south Georgia in the winter of 1824 or 1825. This was before Lowndes County was created out of parts of Irwin County, and about the same time that William Anderson Knight brought his family from Wayne County. Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, ‘of full Scottish blood and fiery temper,’ was known to still wear a kilt on certain occasions.

Did Daniel McCranie have Brachydactyly?
His nickname, ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie, might indicate that Daniel McCranie had brachydactyly type D, a genetic condition that affects 1 out of a 1000 people, commonly known as clubbed thumb or toe thumb. Brachdactyly captivated the attention of the entertainment media in 2009-10, when movie star and superbowl headliner Megan Fox was identified with this condition. The word brachydactyly comes from the Greek terms brachy and daktylos. “Literally, what it means is short finger,” says Dr. Steven Beldner, a hand surgeon at Beth Israel Medical Center.  “The nail of the thumb in this condition is often very short and wide.”  “It is usually hereditary,” Beldner explains. “Although it could also have been caused by frostbite, or it could have been an injury to the growth plate in childhood.” Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/gossip/brace-megan-fox-imperfection-actress-thumbs-article-1.196125#ixzz1qGndhWsv

McCranie, Daniel 1772-1854

Daniel ‘Big Thumb’ McCranie was born in North Carolina in 1772, a son of Catherine Shaw and Daniel McCranie, R.S.  His father had immigrated to North Carolina from Scotland and fought with the Cumberland County Militia during the American Revolution.

About 1793, young Daniel McCranie married  Sarah McMillan, daughter of Malcolm McMillan of Robeson County, N. C.

To Daniel and Sarah were born:

  1. Neil E. McCranie, born 1794, married Rebecca Monroe. Moved to Florida.
  2. Mary McCranie, born 1795, married John Lindsey, son of Thomas Lindsey.
  3. John McCranie, born 1797, married Christiana Morrison, daughter of John Morrison.
  4. Daniel McCranie, born 1800, married Winnie Lindsey, daughter of Thomas Lindsey.
  5. Malcolm McCranie, born 1802, married Elizabeth Parrish, daughter of Henry Parrish.
  6. Duncan McCranie, born 1805, married (unknown). Lived in Liberty Co.
  7. Nancy McCranie, born 1808, married Robert N. Parrish.
  8. Archibald McCranie, born 1810, married a cousin, Nancy McMillan.
  9. William McCranie born 1812, married Melvina Beasley, daughter of Elijah Beasley.
  10. Elizabeth McCranie, born 1815, married Sampson G. Williams

Daniel McCranie’s parents moved from Robeson County, North Carolina, to Bulloch County, GA about 1800 and shortly thereafter, Daniel and Sarah also brought their family to Georgia, moving to Montgomery county sometime before 1802.   He was a Justice of the Inferior Court of Montgomery County and was commissioned Jan. 17, 1822.

It was on December 23 of that year, 1822, that the Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1500.00 for construction of  a frontier road to run from a point on the Alapaha river to the Florida Line.  General John E. Coffee and Thomas Swain were appointed “to superintend the opening of the road,  to commence on the Alapaha at or near Cunningham’s Ford” and running to the Florida line near the “Oclockney”  river. The route, which became known as Coffee’s Road, was an important for supply line to the Florida Territory for military actions against Indians in the Creek Wars, but also quickly became a path for settlers moving into the south Georgia area.

In a previous post (see Pennywell Folsom fell at Brushy Creek), historian Montgomery M. Folsom’s  described General Coffee’s ‘road cutters’, his hunters Isham Jordan and Kenneth Swain, and the Wiregrass pioneers that honored them with song.  Isham Jordan, along with Burrell Henry Bailey and others had worked to survey and mark the first public roads in Irwin County.

About Coffee’s Road,

“This road was a great thoroughfare and many a hardy settler has packed his traps in a cart drawn by a tough pony, and driving his flocks and herds before him has traversed the lonely pine barrens in search of a more generous soil and greener pastures.”

About 1824,  Daniel and Sarah McCranie moved their family from Montgomery County and settled on Coffee’s Road in the lower section of Irwin County .  The place where they settled was Lot of Land No 416 in the 9th district of Irwin County. In 1825 this section of Irwin was cut off into the new county of Lowndes.  (In 1856, this property was cut into Berrien, and in 1918 into Cook County.)

The McCranie’s home served as the first postoffice in original Lowndes County. Known simply as  “Lowndes,”  the post office was established March 27,1827, with Daniel McCranie as the first postmaster. That arrangement lasted only a year, as the following year the Lowndes county seat was established in the new town of Franklinville, GA. The postoffice was moved to Franklinville and William Smith became the new postmaster (see Post Offices of the Old Berrien Pioneers).

In the Indian War in 1836,  Daniel McCranie provided forage for the local militia. It is said that five of McCranie’s sons fought in the Battle of Brushy Creek, serving in Captain Hamilton W. Sharpe’s Company, of the Georgia Militia. The Battle of Brushy Creek, was among the last military actions against Native Americans in this area.

Sarah McCranie died about 1842. Her grave is the earliest known burial in Wilkes Cemetery.  Following her death, Daniel McCranie  married Mrs. Kittie  Holmes Paige in 1844. She was the widow of James Paige of Jefferson County, GA.  Kitty Holmes was born Jan. 2, 1802, in Duplin County, N. C., and moved with her parents to Washington County, GA, in 1812.  In 1818 she married Silas Godwin and by him had one son, S. B. Godwin, who became a resident of Berrien County. After divorcing  Silas Godwin she had  married James Paige of Jefferson County, Ga., and lived with him twenty years until his death. By James Paige she had two children, one of whom, Allen Paige, became a resident of Lowndes County.

Kitty joined Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church, Lowndes (now (Berrien) County on October 17, 1850.  A month later Daniel joined, on November 16, 1850.

Daniel McCranie died in 1854 and was buried in the Wilkes Cemetery in present Cook County. After his death, Kittie left Pleasant Church for New Salem Church, Adel, Georgia.  Kittie McCranie died in 1889 and was buried beside Daniel at Wilkes Cemetery.

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Mrs. Lindsay’s Sixth Grade Class of 1960-61, Ray City Elementary School

Ray City Elementary School, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Ray City Elementary School. Mrs. Lindsay's Sixth Grade 1960-61.

Ray City Elementary School. Mrs. Lindsay’s Sixth Grade 1960-61. Image courtesy of Edith Mayo.

An old photo from the days of the Ray City Elementary School.  Mrs. Lindsay’s sixth grade class of 1960-61. The reverse is inscribed with the following names:

Doriel Wilson
Buddy Cantrauel
Roger Herring
Betty Jo Walker
Nancy Brantley
Kenny Harrell
Earl Richardson
Howard Bridgan
Jimmy Waters
Robert Earl Peters
Johnny Harpe
James Patte
James Plair
Gregg Royals
Alan Garrison
David Crawford
Jack Bennett
James Henery McGill
J. L. Mathis
Gregg Ray
Jesse Lee Creed

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Ray City School Teachers 1950-51, Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia

Merchant of Ray City: Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson was born and raised on the old Johnson farm in Clinch county,  about four miles north of Dupont, GA.  His father, Captain Rowan Burnett Johnson, gave a portion of his land for the site of the primitive baptist Prospect Church,  J.H.P. Johnson lived in DuPont for some years prior to moving to Ray City about 1913.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson, of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

In 1900 the newlywed J.H.P.  “Joe” Johnson  supported his bride, Chloe Ann Gardner, as a merchant in the Dupont district of Clinch County, GA. In the Clinch County census of 1910 Johnson reported his occupation as “farming”.  Some time about 1913, the Johnsons moved to Ray City, GA where  Joe served on the board of directors for the Bank of Ray’s Mill , and owned  several retail buildings  prior to the Great Depression.  By 1930 J.H.P.  the census shows he was back in the occupation of farming, but he was always in the retail business.  His death certificate in 1953 gave his usual occupation as “merchant and farmer,”   and his type of  business was  owner of a general merchandise store.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson and grandchild. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson and grandchild. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

The Clinch County News
February 27, 1953

Death Of J.H.P.  Johnson

Aged Clinch County Native Passes at Ray City

    Mr. J. H. P. Johnson, known to his old home-county people as “Joe” Johnson, died in the hospital at Lakeland last Saturday morning, age 83 years following a long illness.  Funeral and burial was had at Ray City last Sunday afternoon, the funeral being in the Ray City Baptist Church and conducted by the pastor, Rev. John W. Harrell, assisted by the Methodist Pastor, Rev. D. R. Dixon.
    Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Chloe Gardner Johnson; three daughters, Mrs. Paul King of Orange Park, Fla., Mrs. R. Lawton LeSueur of Americus, Mrs. W. M. Carlton of Nashville; and six sons, R. G. Johnson of Elberton, J. Wallace Johnson of Valdosta, Floyd V. Johnson of Charlotte, N. C., J. H. Johnson and Maurice Johnson of Ray City, and R. Bruce Johnson of Callahan, Fla.
    Mr. Johnson was the last surviving one of the children of the late Hon. Rowan B. Johnson, 1830-1904, well known Clinch County citizen and legislator of years ago.  The elder Johnson died in June, 1904, while a member of the legislature from Clinch serving his fourth or fifth (though not consecutive terms) from this county. The mother of the deceased was Mrs. Caroline Floyd Johnson, daughter of Jason Floyd of Liberty County.  The deceased was born and reared near Prospect Church, on the old Johnson farm now the plantation of Mr. G. C. Griner; and lived in DuPont for some years prior to moving to Ray City about forty years ago.  He engaged in merchandising in Ray City until forced by ill health a few years ago to retire.
      Mr. Johnson was a very fine, upright man,and had many friends.  He was always genial and friendly, and leaves behind the record of a good, clean life filled with many deeds of kindness exemplifying many fine traits of character.
      Mr. G. A. Gibbs of Homerville, is his nephew.  Mrs. O. C. Dukes of Homerville, and Mrs. M. G. Hughes of DuPont, are second cousins.

Death Certificate of Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson. Courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Death Certificate of Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson. Courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Grave of Joseph Howard Pascal Johnson and Chloe Gardner Johnson, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Joseph Howard Pascal Johnson and Chloe Gardner Johnson, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Johnson Brothers and the Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company

Maurice (Morris) Johnson, Robert Bruce Johnson and James Howard Pascal Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Maurice (Morris) Johnson, Robert Bruce Johnson and James Howard Pascal Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Chloe Gardner Johnson and Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson came to Ray City from DuPont, GA some time before 1918, bringing their children with them.

  1.  Rowan Glenn Johnson 1901 – 1962
  2.  Joseph Wallace Johnson 1903 –
  3.  Mildred “Dish” Lee Johnson 1905 –
  4.  Floyd B Johnson 1906 – 1982
  5.  Lawton Walker Johnson 1908 – 1945
  6.  Bess “Bessie” Gardner Johnson 1911 – 2005
  7. Blanche G. “Bat” Johnson 1914 –

The three youngest sons of Chloe Gardner Johnson and Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson were born at Ray City, GA.

8.     James Howard Pascal Johnson (1918-1988)
9.     Robert Bruce Johnson (1919-2008)
10.     Maurice (Morris) Johnson (born abt 1923)

 The Johnson kids grew up in Ray City and attended the Ray City School ( see Ray City School 1934 and Glee Club Gave 1939 Christmas Cantata).

A photo in the collection of Julie Hutson appears to show the three youngest Johnson boys on an excursion to Apalachicola, Florida circa 1930. They are posed on the waterfront with a crate of oysters from the Apalachicola Fish and Oyster Company. The company was incorporated in Florida in 1930.

Maurice Johnson, James Howard Johnson and Robert Bruce Johnson with a crate of oysters from the ApalaMaurice Johnson, James Howard Johnson and Robert Bruce Johnson with a crate of oysters from the Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.chicola Fish & Oyster Company.i

Maurice Johnson, James Howard Johnson and Robert Bruce Johnson with a crate of oysters from the Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company

Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company, 1947. Image courtesy of The Florida Memory Project http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/55947

Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company

Apalachicola Fish & Oyster Company, 1947. Image courtesy of The Florida Memory Project http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/63808

Moving on Up: John and Mary Jane Boyett’s Retouched Portrait

In the modern world of “glamour shot” photography,  a few digital improvements photoshopped into the family portrait are perhaps expected.  But even in the 1930s,  a family photo  could be upgraded with the judicious application of a little paint.  In fact, according to digital forensics expert, Dr. Hany Farid, “photographs have been manipulated for nearly as long as photography has been around. The nearly iconic portrait of Abraham Lincoln (circa 1860), for example, is a composite of Lincoln’s head and Senator John Calhoun’s body.”

Sharp-eyed reader, Richard Wheeler,  recently commented that the “formal” portrait of Mary Jane Sirmans and John Boyett (see John Boyett (1865-1938) ~ Ray City Farmer) is actually a retouched version of a more casual photograph of the couple (see The Calhoun Farm), presented here, side-by-side.   The Boyett’s home place was situated southeast of Ray City, GA on the shore of Banks Lake.

John Boyette (1865-1938) and Mary Jane Sirmans Boyett (1867-1946). John Boyett's land consisted of more than 1000 acres situated in present day western Lanier County, GA. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Original photo of John Boyette and Mary Jane Sirmans Boyett, circa 1930-31. Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/

Edward John Boyette and Mary Jane Sirmans, circa 1900. Image courtesy of I. Mitchell Calhoun.

Retouched family portrait of John Boyette and Mary Jane Sirmans Boyett. Image courtesy of I. Mitchell Calhoun.

” My mother, a great grand daughter of John and MaryJane’s has the exact same portrait (shown above, right) hanging in her living room,” said Wheeler. “In this photo John’s jacket and tie are painted on and Mary Jane’s dress and shawl are painted over. In the original (above, left) my great grandmother can be seen holding my grandfather as a infant, but they are painted out of these doctored portraits. This photo was taken 1930 or early 31. John died April 2 1938, from injury/illness days after crashing his pick-up truck.”

Related Posts:

The Commission of Major General Levi J. Knight

 Levi J. Knight, first settler of  the Ray City, GA area, has been a central subject of this blog.

Levi J. Knight fought in the Indian War of 1836-1839 and served as Captain of the Lowndes Militia.  After the resignation of Major General Ezekiel Wimberly, Knight  was elected Major General of the 6th Division of Georgia Militia on December 4, 1840. In that same election, John McPherson Berrien was elected to the U.S. Senate., a position he held until 1850.

Announcement of the election of Levi J. Knight to Major General of the Militia, Milledgeville Recorder, Dec 8, 1840.

Announcement of the election of Levi J. Knight to Major General of the Militia, Milledgeville Recorder, Dec 8, 1840.

Milledgeville Recorder, Dec. 8, 1840, pg 3
Levi J. Knight of Lowndes county, was elected, on Friday last, Major General of the sixth Division G.M., in place of Gen. E. Wimberly, resigned.

Election of Major General Levi J. Knight, Columbus Enquirer, Dec. 9, 1840.

Election of Major General Levi J. Knight, Columbus Enquirer, Dec. 9, 1840.

Columbus Enquirer, Dec. 9, 1840 — page 2

MILLEDGEVILLE, Dec. 5th, 1840.
Messrs Editors: On yesterday at 12 o’clock, the following elections transpired.
For. U.S. Senator, 6 years, 4th March next.

John McPherson Berrien, 153, elec.
M. Hall McAlister 117
Scattering, 6
Blank 2

 Major General 6th Division G.M. in the place of E. Wimberly, resigned:

Knight of Lowndes, 198
Slappey of Twiggs, 58
Blank, 9

  Following the election, Knight received an official commission as Major General, by order of the Governor. 

Executive order commissioning Levi J. Knight as Major General of the Georgia Militia, Dec 11, 1840.

Executive order commissioning Levi J. Knight as Major General of the Georgia Militia, Dec 11, 1840.

Knight, Levi J

Executive Department
Milledgeville 11th Dec 1840

Ordered
     That the Secretary of State prepare a
Commission for Levi J Knight elected a
Major General of the 6th Division
Georgia Militia on the 4th instant,
By the Governor

J. V. Harris
S. E. D.

For ten years Levi J. Knight served in the militia as Major General. In the 1850 Census of Lowndes County, GA  he owned real estate valued at $5000. His occupation was listed as farming.  The census enumerates Levi J. Knight (47) with the following in his household: Ann D. (48), William W. (21), John (18), Mary A. (14), Levi A. (12), Jonathan D. (10), Keziah A. (7), and also Elizabeth Clements, age 80, blind, born in Ireland. Sons William and John assisted with farming.  The General’s neighbors were his son-in-law, Hardeman Sirmans, and William Patton, who was Justice of the Peace.

In 1850 Levi J. Knight resigned his commission as Major General of the 6th Division of the Georgia Militia, an office he held since 1840, tendering his resignation in a letter to Governor George W. Towns.

1850 Resignation of Major General Levi J. Knight

1850 Resignation of Major General Levi J. Knight

Troupville  September 16th  1850

To his Excellency
      George W Towns   Sir
                                You will please
       accept this as my resignation of
       the office of Major General of the
       Sixth Division Georgia Militia. I am
                   Respectfully your obedient
                         and humble Servant
                         Levi J. Knight

Appling, Clinch, Iwin, Laurens
Lowndes, Pulaski, Telfair, Twiggs
and  Wlkinsins, Ware & Wilkinsin

a

Hyman Hardeman Sirmans of Ray City, GA

Hyman Hardeman “Brocy” Sirmans (1919 – 1969) of Ray City, GA was a son of Mamie and Daniel W. Sirmans.

Hyman Hardeman "Brocy" Sirmans of Ray City, GA.

Hyman Hardeman “Brocy” Sirmans of Ray City, GA.

H. H. Sirmans  was born on March 22, 1919 at Ray City  just in time to be enumerated in the census of 1920. His father  rented a farm on one of the settlement roads near Ray City.  Next door was John and Anne Sirmans Matheny, and on the adjacent farm, George W. and Mary Fender.

1920 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

1920 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

http://www.archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n372/mode/1up

Hyman H. Sirmans was enumerated in the Census of 1930 in his father’s household at Ray City, GA.  He was 11 years old, and attended school along with his sisters Lerine and Victoria. Edith and Margaret were too young to attend.

1930 enumeration of the household of Daniel W. Sirmans.

http://www.archive.org/stream/georgiacensus00reel338#page/n372/mode/1up

Hyman H Sirmans worked on a Liberty Ship  during WWII.  His service records give his physical description as 5′ 6″ tall, and 228 pounds.

He began his service at sea in 1940, and served as a Fireman/Watertender on the S. S. William G.  Lee.  The William G. Lee liberty ship was built in Savannah, Georgia by the Southeastern Shipbuilding Corporation.

The WWII liberty ship S. S. William G. Lee, photographed after the war.

The WWII liberty ship S. S. William G. Lee, photographed after the war.

The Merchant Marine website provides the following:

“Liberty ship” was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for “Emergency” construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed “ugly ducklings” by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The first of the 2,711 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced design. (2,710 ships were completed, as one burned at the dock.) The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A Liberty cost under $2,000,000.

The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry over 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition.

As a Fireman/Watertender on the S.S. William G. Lee, H. H. Sirmans would have been responsible for tending to the fires and boilers in the steam ship’s engine room.  His duties would have included tending the boilers to maintain steam at specified pressure, and regulating the amount of water in the boiler,  observing gauges, and cleaning equipment and work area.  He may have also done maintenance and repair work in the fireroom and engine room, and monitored operation of evaporators and condensers used to convert salt water to fresh water.

The William G. Lee  was launched in July, 1944 and made numerous Atlantic crossings during WWII. According to the ConvoyWeb database for Merchant Ships during WW2, the William G. Lee departed from NYC on July 25, 1944 with Convoy HX.301, and arrived at Liverpool, England on August 8, 1944. She departed Methil, Scotland with Convoy FS.1541 on August 11,1944 for Southend, England, arriving on August 13, 1944. She departed Southend, England with Convoy FN.1455 on August 20, 1944, for Methil,Scotland. Two days later she departed Methil Scotland with Convoy EN.425 on August 22, 1944 bound for Loch Ewe, Scotland, arriving August 24. She joined Convoy ON.250 departing from Liverpool and arrived NYC on September 7, 1944. She departed from NYC on October 5, 1944 with Convoy HX.312, and arrived at Liverpool, England on October 21, 1944. She joined Convoy ON.267 departing Southend on November 18, 1944, and arrived NYC on December 5, 1944. She departed Boston, MA with Convoy BX.138 on December 21, 1944, arriving off Halifax on December 23. She joined Convoy HX.328 departing from NYC on Christmas Eve, 1944, arriving at Liverpool England on January 8, 1945. On January 10, 1945, she made the run from Southend with Convoy FN.1598, bound for Methil, Scotland. Nine days later, she made the return run with Convoy FS.1702. She departed Southend with Convoy ON.280 on January 22 1945, arrived NYC on 9 February 9, 1945. She joined Convoy HX.341 and departed NYC on February 28, 1945, arriving at Liverpool England on March 15, 1945.  On 27 March 1945 she departed Southend with Convoy ON.293, and arrived NYC on April 15, 1945. She departed from NYC on May 3, 1945 with Convoy HX.354 and arrived Liverpool on 18 May 1945.

H. H. Sirmans married Marjorie E Garner in 1944 in Baker County, FL 1944  21268

1969 Obituary of Hyman Hardeman Sirmans, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

1969 Obituary of Hyman Hardeman Sirmans, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

LAKELAND, Ga. – H. H. (Brocy) Sirmans, 49, of Ray City, died at his home early today of an apparent heart attack.
    He was born and lived all his life in Berrien County.  He was a member of Ray City Baptist Church, the National Farmers Organization and the Farm Bureau.
    Survivors are his wife the former Marjorie Garner; a daughter, Patricia Ann Sirmans of Valdosta; mother, Mrs. Mamie Sirmans of Ray City; four sisters, Mrs. Lerine Harris and Mrs. Margaret Stalvey and Mrs. Edith Peters of Ray City and Mrs. Victoria Bradly of Savannah.
     Funeral services are to be held at 3 p. m. Wednesday at Ray City Baptist Church with burial at Beaver Dam Cemetery. The body is to be taken to the residence late today.
    Music Funeral Home of Lakeland is in charge of arrangements.
    Active pallbearers are to be Jackie Giddens, Murice Lankford, Marvin Harris, J. Bart Gaskins, Clyde Miller, Albert Studstill, James Swindle and Lonnie Plair.
    Honorary pallbearers are to be Walter J. Gaskins, Billy Clements, Glen Lee, John David Luke, Lawson Fountain, Sam Barker, Joe Latham, Jack Knight, Herbert Allen, Thomas Patten and Leland Kent.

The Johnsons Were at Home in Ray City, GA

The old Johnson Home Place was near Ray City, GA. It was the residence of Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson. Chloe  was originally from Florida (see Family of Chloe Gardner Johnson) and JHP Johnson grew up in Clinch county, GA (see  From the King’s Tree to Ray City: Family of JHP Johnson) , his family having settled there in 1822.

Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal "Joe" Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Chloe Gardner and Joseph Henry Pascal “Joe” Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

The Johnsons, Joe and Chloe, came to Berrien County some time before 1918 and made their home near Ray City, GA.  In the 1920s this was perhaps the finest home in the Rays Mill district, its $6000 value being equaled only by the home of Elias Moore “Hun” Knight.

Johnson Homestead near Ray City, Georgia circa 1923. Depicted are Chloe Gardner Johnson and her three youngest children- Robert Bruce Johnson, James Howard Pascal Johnson and Maurice (Morris) Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Johnson Homestead near Ray City, Georgia circa 1923. Depicted are Chloe Gardner Johnson and her three youngest children- Robert Bruce Johnson, James Howard Pascal Johnson and Maurice (Morris) Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

In 1929, the editor of the Nashville Herald called on Chloe at this home while visiting Ray City:

Just before taking leave of the little city it was our pleasure to visit the garden of Mrs. J.H.P. Johnson, which is a marvel, especially considering the dry weather.  Our observation of the garden and surroundings, convinced us that there is no danger of the family going hungry unless they should suddenly become too weak to pull up vegetables, milk a cow, kill a chicken, or clean a hog, as there was plenty of evidence that this family believes in living at home.

Johnson Home in Ray City, GA

After the old Johnson home place burned, Chloe Johnson moved into a small home on Johnson Street in Ray City, GA.  Although they lived in town, Chloe was still a “farm woman” and attended the 1931 summer course for Farm Women at Camp Wilkins, UGA in 1931.

The image below is the Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson photographed on a rare south Georgia snow day in 1958.   This home still stands on Jones Street in Ray City, although the exterior was covered with a type of shingle siding in the late 50s or early 60s .

1958 Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson.  Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

1958 Ray City home of Chloe Gardner Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

On Jones Street

This house was built for Mrs. Chloe Johnson, postmistress of Ray City, GA.  At that time the post office was located just down the street on the northeast corner of Jones and Paralleled Streets.

2008 photo of Chloe Gardner Johnson's home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

2008 photo of Chloe Gardner Johnson’s home on Jones Street, Ray City, GA.

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