Luckie Stop at Ray City

Luckie Lumber Company

In the early 1900s there were  at least 86 lumber mills situated on the line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad running from Augusta, GA to Madison, FL, some 250 odd miles.   A big sawmill was situated on the railroad just  above Ray City, at a stop known as Luckie.  First operated under the name Luckie Lumber Company, it was owned by William F. Luckie.  About 1911, W.F. Luckie sold out to Levi J. Clements and his sons.  It appears that the Clements may have continued to operate under the name Luckie Lumber Company for several years, for the business was still listed under this name in the March 15, 1915 edition of the Lumber Trade Journal.  (see also Clements Lumber Company and the Company Town;  November 6, 1923 ~ Big Fire Loss at the Ray City Sawmill)

William Floyd Luckie, 1858-1937, operated the Luckie Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

William Floyd Luckie, 1858-1937, operated the Luckie Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

William Floyd Luckie

William Floyd Luckie, Jr.  was born on October 15, 1858 in  Greene County, Georgia. He was a son of William F. Luckie and Delaney Sayers, but was orphaned at an early age.  His father was killed in 1859.

“In 1859, a runaway slave of William Luckey’s was captured. While attempting to punish him, the slave grabbed a knife and stabbed Luckey to death.”

In 1861, his mother followed in death.

Afterward, William Floyd Luckie and his sisters, Falby and Mary were raised by their grandfather, James Martin Sayers, on his farm near Penfield, GA.  William Floyd Luckie was enumerated there in 1870 as William Sayers. At the time, he was assisting his grandfather with farm labor.

On March 20, 1887 William Floyd Luckie married Anita Inez Parks in Dodge County, GA. She was born in 1863 in Georgia.

Anita Inez Parks, first wife of William Floyd Luckie.

Anita Inez Parks, first wife of William Floyd Luckie.

By the census of 1900 the couple had seven children and made their home in Hortense, GA  in Wayne County, GA (now Brantley Co.) William was working as a merchant. Hortense is situated on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which ran the fast mail train through the town, from New York to Jacksonville. But the town generated such little traffic that it wasn’t even a flag stop for the railroad.

Children of Anita “Nida” Inez Parks and William Floyd Luckie:

  1. Fulton Woodard Luckie (1880-)
  2. Annie Mae Luckie (1891-1971)
  3. Nebbie I or J Luckie (1892-1977)
  4. Willis Heard Luckie (1894- abt 1984)
  5. Fannie C Luckie (1895- )
  6. Rosa Kate Luckie (1897- )
  7. Candler C Luckie (1899)
  8. William M Luckie (1902-1931)
  9. John Parks Luckie (November 14, 1903 –  October 23, 1996)

It appears that the Luckies moved about 85 miles from Hortense to McRae, GA  sometime before 1903.  Anita Inez Parks died May 5, 1906 and was buried there at Oak Grove Cemetery. William was left a widower with eight minor children to raise.

About 1907 William F. Luckie married a second time.  In 1908 a son was born to this union, James Luckie (1908-1974). Elizabeth Susan and William Floyd Luckie were enumerated in McRae, GA with their children in 1910. William was working as a sawmill superintendent; Elizabeth was keeping house.  In McRae, the Luckies owned a home on Huckabee Street,  named in honor of William Allen Huckabee. Huckabee was first president of  South Georgia College, a  school which had been founded at McRae about 1885.

Shortly after the 1910 census William F. Luckie came to the newly incorporated town of Ray City, GA.  Mr. Luckie founded the Luckie Lumber Company, a business that within a decade would grow to be one of the largest employers in the area. The big sawmill was located on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida about a mile north of town.

Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Luckie were among the first members of the Ray City Methodist Church, along with Will Terry, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Turner, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley. The Church was organized by brother F.D. Ratcliff on October 29, 1910. The Rev. W.E. Hightower of Remerton, Georgia served as the first pastor. Originally the services were held in a tent on the north side of town near the homestead of Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements.

The business and social activities of the newcomers were newsworthy. The Valdosta Times, Saturday, November 26, 1910,  noted:

Mrs. B.W. Boyd and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, of Ray’s Mill came down yesterday and spent the day in this city on a shopping trip.

and in  January 19, 1911 The Valdosta Times reported from Rays Mill:

Mr. W. F. Luckie made a business trip to McRae last Saturday returning Monday.

In time, the Luckie children were on the social scene in Berrien county.   The Atlanta Constitution noted Willis Heard Luckie among the Ray City young people at the Nashville, GA carnival in 1914.

Atlanta Constitution, Feb 8, 1914, pg 8 M

Nashville (news items)

Rays Mill was well represented at the carnival last week. Misses Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. Luckie, George Norton, J. J. and J. S. Clements and C.B . Shaw were among the visitors.

Some time between 1914 and 1920, William F. Luckie had moved his family to Spence, GA in Grady County where he was operating a sawmill at the time of the 1920 census. But by 1921, the Luckies moved to Cairo, GA.

By the time of the 1930 census, William and Elizabeth Luckie had returned to Ray City.  They lived in town in a rented house; William Luckie engaged in truck farming.

William Floyd Luckie died on 16 Aug 1937 in Quitman, Brooks, Georgia. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, Georgia.

William Floid Luckie (1858-1937), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

William Floid Luckie (1858-1937), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

After his death,  Elizabeth S. Luckie went to live in the home of her daughter Nebbie and son-in-law William H. Terry, on South Broad Street in Quitman, GA. She died on May 1, 1953 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Elizabeth Susan Luckie, (1876-1953), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Elizabeth Susan Luckie, (1876-1953), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.


Related Posts:

The Lucky Draw

In the  1832 Land Lottery of Georgia, 36 lucky drawers from Lowndes County won land grants in the Cherokee Indian Territory. Among the winners were Hamilton Sharpe, Pennywell Folsom and Bryan J. Roberts, who later fought in the last Indian skirmishes in Berrien County (then Lowndes County). See Pennywell Folsom Fell at Brushy Creek and Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County.

The last, or 1832 Land Lottery of Georgia, made available for distribution and settlement that part of the Cherokee Indian Nation which was in Georgia. This was a large area generally north of the Chattahoochee River in the north west and north central parts of the state. There were two distinct areas involved in this Lottery. One part was the area referred to as the gold lots, lying along the south boundary of the subject area, and the other part was referred to as the land lots.

Cherokee land lots were parceled out to white Georgians in one of the two state land lotteries held in 1832. The state conducted a total of eight lotteries between 1805 and 1833.

Cherokee land lots were parceled out to white Georgians in one of the two state land lotteries held in 1832. The state conducted a total of eight lotteries between 1805 and 1833.

Fortunate Drawers from Lowndes County

  1. Jemimah Monk, orphan, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 42, 6th Dist., 1st Sect., Union and Lumpkin County.
  2. Sampson G. Williams, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 242, 6th Dist., 1st Sect., Union and Lumpkin County.
  3. Nancy Ivy, w., Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 314, 6th Dist., 1st Sect., Union and Lumpkin County.
  4. Isom Batton, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 37, 7th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  5. James Jamison, soldier, Barnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 273, 7th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  6. Samuel Carter, Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 321, 7th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  7. Seaborn Bradford, Blair’s Lowndes.
    Lot 128, 8th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  8. Blanset Sutton, widow, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 67, 9th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  9. James McLeod, Burnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 146, 9th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  10. James Anderson, Studstill’s, Lowndes
    Lot 240, 10th District, 1st Sect., Union County
  11. Jane Clark, widow of Revolutionary Soldier., Burnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 250, 10th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  12. Martha Akins, widow, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 77, 16th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  13. Hamilton Sharp, Blair’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 284, 17th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  14. David Bell, Mattox’s, Lowndes
    Lot 316, 19th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  15. Jesse Carter, Jr., Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 3, 19th Dist., 1st Sect., Union County.
  16. Jesse Fulford, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 13, 5th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  17. John Dean, Gaulden’s, Lowndes
    Lot 227, 5th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  18. Green McDonald, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 232, 5th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  19. Benjamin S. Vickers, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 45, 7th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  20. Jacob Carter, Coward’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 17, 8th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  21. Bryan J. Roberts, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 214, 9th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  22. Cannay Burnam, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 183, 9th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  23. John Sutton’s orphans, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 257, 10th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  24. John William Spain, orphan, Studstill’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 127, 11th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  25. Thomas Woods, Blair’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 94, 12th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  26. Isam Watson, Revolutionary Soldier, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 143, 12th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
    Lot 272, 9th Dist., 3rd Sect., Murray County
  27. James Price, Mattox’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 227, 12th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  28. Lovick Green, Johnson’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 78, 13th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  29. Robert Lindsey’s orphan, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 184, 14th Dist., 2nd Sect., Gilmer County.
  30. Alexander Patterson, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 258, 14th Dist., 2nd Sect., Cherokee County
  31. Bartimeus Williams, Blair’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 275, 14th Dist., 2nd Sect., Cherokee County
  32. Samuel Raney, Blair’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 33, 22nd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties
  33. Elias Skipper, Johnson’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 254, 22nd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  34. Aaron Mattox, Mattox’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 281, 22nd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  35. Anna Davis, orphan, Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 322, 22nd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  36. Pennywill Folsom, Burnett’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 116, 23rd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  37. Noah Griffin, Blair’s, Lowndes
    Lot 213, 23rd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  38. Joshua Davis, Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 221, 23rd Dist., 2nd Sect., Cass & Cherokee Counties.
  39. Andrew Tucker’s orphan, Burnett’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 161, 24th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murry and Gilmer Counties.
  40. Moses Beesley, Burnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 308, 24th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murry and Gilmer Counties.
  41. John McDermed, McCraney’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 26, 25th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murray and Gilmer Counties.
  42. William Jerkins’s orphans, Blair’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 16, 26th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murray and Gilmer Counties.
  43. James Wade, Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 119, 26th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murray and Gilmer Counties.
  44. Bartley Green, Johnson’s, Lowndes *
    Lot 324, 27th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murray and Gilmer Counties.
  45. William Newborn, Johnson’s, Lowndes *
    Lot 108, 27th Dist., 2nd Sect., Murray and Gilmer Counties.
  46. Dennis Wirthington, Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 237, 5th Dist., 3rd Sect., Cass County.
  47. Archibald Strickland, Gauldings, Lowndes.
    Lot 115, 6th Dist., 3rd Sect., Cass County.
  48. Peter Warrington, Coward’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 129, 6th Dist., 3rd Sect., Cass County.
  49. John Jones, Jr., Mattox’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 200, 6th Dist., 3rd Sect., Cass County.
  50. Ashley Lindsey, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 46, 8th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County.
  51. Molly Burnett, widow, revolutionary soldier, Burnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 201, 8th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County
  52. Archibald McCraine, McCraney’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 44, 9th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County
  53. Rebecca Tomlinson, widow, Cowart’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 128, 10th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County
  54. John Davis, Revolutionary Soldier, McCraney’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 293, 10th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County
  55. Bryant Burnam, Folsom’s, Lowndes.*
    Lot 284, 11th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County.
  56. Martin Shaw, Folsom’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 316, 11th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County.
  57. John Duke, Burnett’s, Lowndes.
    Lot 3, 12th Dist., 3rd Sect, Murray County.
  58. William G. Hall
  59. John Russell
  60. Green Hill
  61. John Roberts
  62. Asa Griffin
  63. Aaron Mattox
  64. Thomas L. Brown
  65. John Folsom
  66. Nathan Lindsey
  67. Rice Mathis
  68. Jeremiah Wilson
  69. Samuel Whitfield
  70. Silas Cason
  71. James Walker
  72. Edward B. Stafford
  73. Duncan McMillan
  74. Alexander Hodges
  75. James English
  76. John Tomlinson, Jr.
  77. John Duke
  78. John Sutton’s orphans
  79. Duncan Giddens
  80. Michael Peterson
  81. John F. Clements
  82. Robert N. Parrish
  83. Joseph Yates
  84. Silas Cason
  85. Isaac Carter
  86. Henry Hayman, R.S.
  87. Judith McFail, WRS
  88. James Walker
  89. Thomas Bellote
  90. Ely Hendry
  91. Thomas Giddens
  92. David Bell
  93. Samuel McCoy
  94. William McLeod
  95. William Hill’s orphans
  96. George W. Roberts
  97. James English
  98. Thomas Sherby
  99. Jesse Godwin
  100. Jordan Hancock
  101. J. McCranie
  102. Stephens Roberts
  103. William Coulter
  104. James Edmondson
  105. Angus McLeod
  106. John Townsend
  107. Gideon Elvington, RS
  108. Frederic McGiddery

Note- all marked * were granted previous to January 1, 1838.

Georgia’s western and northern boundary had been established in 1802 by the cession of her western territory, from the Chattahoochee River to the Mississippi, to the United States. Although this cession had provided for the peaceful removal of all Indians within these boundaries, in 1828, the Cherokee still remained. Despite the fact the Cherokee were a peaceful and agricultural people, in that year Georgia extended her jurisdiction over them and named the area Cherokee County. Shortly thereafter, the General Assembly, by the Acts of December 21, 1830 and December 24, 1831, authorized the land to be surveyed and distributed by Lottery to citizens of Georgia. In 1832 the surveyors laid off the area in four sections, the sections into land districts about nine miles square, and the land districts into land lots of 40 and 160 acres respectively.

While the surveying was being carried out, those persons who had lived in Georgia three years immediately prior to the Acts of the General Assembly, registered to draw in the Lottery in their counties of residence. Their names, together with the numbers of the lots and districts, were sent to Milledgeville, then the capital of the state, and on specified days tickets from two wheels or drums were drawn simultaneously, one from the wheel holding the name tickets and one from the drum holding the land lot tickets. In this way, a person knew which lot he had drawn and if he subsequently paid to the state a grant fee of $18.00, a grant was issued to the lot he had drawn.

This grant from the State of Georgia was his title to the lot and from that time he could do whatever he wished with his property, although the state did not require that he live on it or cultivate it.

Revolutionary War veterans were given extra draws and were indicated by the letters “R.S.” written after their names. Many other classifications are indicated by initials, such as widows, insane, orphans, idiots, illegitimates, etc. Ordinary married men with their families, or bachelors, etc, are not designated by any initial. Any citizens participating in this and other Lotteries had to take only an ORAL oath when they registered to draw. Consequently, there are no written records as to what they may have said about themselves and their families.

Immediately after the Lottery of 1832 was held, the whole area of Cherokee County was divided into ten counties, i.e., Cass (which was renamed Bartow in 1861), Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd, Forsyth, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Murray, Paulding and Union, all of which were created in 1832. However, the original survey and grant records in the Surveyor General Department of the Office of the Secretary of State, always use the name of the original county — Cherokee.

The 1832 Land Lottery opened up the last area within the present boundaries of Georgia, which heretofore had not been available to the white settlers and was participated in by more persons than any other Lottery.

In spite of the distributing of the lands in the area, it was not fully settled at first. It was not until a Treaty with the United States and the Cherokee Nation on December 29, 1835 held at New Echota in Georgia, that the Cherokee finally agreed to leave their lands and move west beyond the Mississippi River. Soon after Georgians came in in large numbers and not an Indian was left within her boundaries.

Person Entitled to Draw

  • Bachelor, 18 years or over, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of the United States – 1 draw
  • Married man with wife and/or minor son under 18 and/or unmarried daughter, 3-year residence in Georgia, citizen of United States – 2 draws
  • Widow, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Wife and/or child, 3-year residence in Georgia, of husband and/or father absent from state for 3 years – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two) of orphans under 18 years, residence since birth in state – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of orphans under 18 years, residence since birth in state – 2 draws
  • Widow, husband killed or died in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian Wars, 3-year residence in Georgia – 2 draws
  • Orphan, father killed in Revolutionary War, War of 1812, or Indian War – 2 draws
  • Wounded or disabled veteran of War of 1812 or Indian Wars, unable to work – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War – 2 draws
  • Veteran of Revolutionary War who had been a fortunate drawer in any previous lottery – 1 draw
  • Child or children of a convict, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Male idiots, lunatics or insane, deaf and dumb, or blind, over 10 years and under 18 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Female idiots, insane or lunatics or deaf and dumb or blind, over 10 years, 3-year residence in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (one or two) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 1 draw
  • Family (three or more) of illegitimates under 18 years, residence since birth in Georgia – 2 draws

Persons Excluded

  • Any fortunate drawer in any previous land lottery who has taken out a grant of said land lot.
  • Any person who mined—or caused to be mined—gold, silver, or other metal in the Cherokee territory since June 1, 1830.
  • Any person who has taken up residence in Cherokee territory.
  • Any person who is a member of or concerned with “a horde of Thieves known as the Pony Club.”
  • Any person who at any time was convicted of a felony in any court in Georgia.

Related posts:

Portrait of Creasy Brown Wood

A wonderful portrait of Creasy Brown Wood (see Creasy Brown Woods buried at Dupont, GA) was recently contributed by reader, Katie Frost. In the early 1900s, Creasy Brown and husband George Washington Wood kept their household just west of Ray City, in the Connells Mill District.

Creasy Brown, wife of George Washington Wood. Around 1910, the Woods made their home in the Rays Mill area.

Creasy Brown, wife of George Washington Wood. Around 1910, the Woods made their home in the Rays Mill area. Image courtesy of K. Frost.

Creasy Brown, born August 14, 1877 was a daughter of  Sarah Hughes and James Brown. Her father was a veteran of the Civil War, having served as a private in Company D, 26th Georgia Infantry, Confederate States Army. Her mother, Sarah M. Hughes, was a daughter of  Nancy Hutto and William Hughes.

When Creasy was about twelve years old, her grandparents were brutally murdered at their home in Clinch county (see The Bloody Story: 1889 Murder of the Hughes Family in Clinch County.)

Creasy grew up in DuPont, Clinch County, GA.   She was enumerated. In the census of 1900 in her parents’ household in the 1280 District of Clinch county.  Their neighbors were Ola and Otis Mikell, subject of earlier posts (Ola Crews and Otis Mikell),

About 1903 Creasy Brown married 18 year old George Washington Wood.  She was 25 at the time.

The couple made their home on a rented farm in the Connells Mill District, the 1329 Georgia Militia District, near the town of Rays Mill.  George worked the farm and Creasy assisted with the farm labor. By the time the 1910 census came along they were also raising four kids.

The year 1911 brought tragedy. In September Creasy was down with illness; by early October she knew the end was coming.  After weeks of illness she passed away on October 10, 1911.  Her obituary mentions she was survived by her husband and five children. She was buried at North Cemetery,  Du Pont, GA, about 20 miles east of Ray City.

Children of Creasy Brown and George Washington Wood:

  1. Children of Creasy Brown and George Washington Wood:
    1. Leon Wood, born August 30, 1901, Berrien County, GA;  died November 8, 1922; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
    2. Hattie Wood, born about 1906, Berrien County, GA
    3. Gruvey Silas Wood, born March 24, 1908, Berrien County, GA; married Mary Pannal; died May 22, 1984, Savannah, GA; buried Hillcrest Abbey East Cemetery, Savannah, GA
    4. J. Remer Wood, born September 30, 1909, Berrien County, GA; married Jewel Prickett; died October 4, 1995; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
    5. Henry C. Wood, born August 8, 1911, Berrien County, GA; died April 24, 1986; buried Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA
Children of Creasy Brown and George Washington Wood. Left to right: Gruvey Silas Wood, Hattie Wood, Remer Wood, and Leon Wood (seated). Image courtesy of Katie Frost.

Children of Creasy Brown and George Washington Wood. Left to right: Gruvey Silas Wood, Hattie Wood, Remer Wood, and Leon Wood (seated). Image courtesy of Katie Frost.

George Washington Wood later moved to Savannah, GA and married Fannie Lou Taylor.


July 17, 1914 Lightning Strikes Ray City Home of Johnnie Clements

Lightning was always a threat for those who live and work in the country. Previous posts on Ray City victims of lightning strikes have included The Misadventures of Mr. Stewart and Death of Catherine Ardella Swindle, May 11, 1882.

In the summer of 1914 it was Johnnie Clements of Ray City, GA who took a hit.

The Nashville Herald, Friday, July 17, 1914

Lightning Strikes a House at Ray’s Mill

Lightning struck the home of Mr. Johnnie Clements Thursday afternoon, practically destroying the house and rendering Mr. Clements unconscious for some time, though did not seriously injure him. There were other occupants of the house who were badly shocked. It was a miracle that Mr. Clements missed death, as the screen door he was holding at half open when the explosion came was torn loose from the house and thrown into the yard. – Milltown Advocate.

The article does not provide sufficient detail to identify which of several John Clements who were residing in the Ray City area was the victim. Perhaps a reader can provide more details.

Bryan J. Robert’s Account of the Last Indian Fight in Berrien County

Bryan J. Roberts, and his brothers Nathan and John, were among Levi J. Knight’s company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

Here is the story the way it was told by B. J. Roberts 50 years after the event:

The Valdosta Times
May 14, 1887


A Brief Account of the Fighting In This Section In 1836.

Mr. Bryan J. Roberts, father of Mr. W. K. Roberts of this place, is one of the pioneers of Lowndes, and has seen service as an Indian fighter in this and Clinch counties.  He is now in his 78th year and is spending the evening of his life very happily among his devoted children, having a few years ago divided a fine property among them, reserving for himself a sufficiency for his simple needs.  His children are all prospering and he is happy in seeing them happy.

In 1836 the rumors of depredations and murders by Indians in other portions of the State caused widespread alarm in this section, and the citizens organized companies for the protection of their families and property.  Capt. Levi J. Knight commanded the company to which Mr. Roberts belonged.

This company was on duty one hundred and five days, and during that time engaged in two bloody fights with the red skins.

In August, 1835, a squad of Indians raided Mr. William Parker’s home, not far from Milltown.  They carried his feather beds out into the yard; cut them open, emptied the feathers, cut and carried the ticks with them.  They also robbed him of provisions, clothing, and $208.25 in money.

Capt. Knight’s company was soon on the trail of this squad and in a short time overtook them near the Alapaha river, not far from the Gaskins mill pond.  The sun was just rising when the gallant company opened fire on the savages. A lively fight ensued, but it soon terminated in the complete routing of the Indians, who threw their guns and plunder into the river and jumped in after them.  A few were killed and a number wounded.  One Indian was armed with a fine shot gun.  This he threw into the river and tried to throw a shot bag, but it was caught by the limb of a tree and was suspended over the water.  This bag contained Mr. Parker’s money, every cent of which he recovered as well as all the other property taken from his house. The fine gun was fished out of the river and, afterwards sold for $40, a tremendous price for a gun in those days.  In the fight Mr. Peters was shot with this same gun.  One buck-shot struck him just above the waist-band of his pants, passed through and lodged under the skin near the backbone. He was also struck by two shot in the left side, which made only slight wounds.  The Indian was not more than thirty yards distant when he shot him.  Mr. Peters recovered from his wounds in less than twelve months.

Having driven the Indians into the dense swamp beyond the river, Capt. Knight marched his company as rapidly as possible in the direction of Brushy creek, in the Southwestern portion of the county.  When they arrived near that place, they heard a volley of small arms, and on arrival found that the battle had been fought and that the volley they heard was the last tribute of respect over the grave of their brave comrade-in-arms, Pennywell Folsom.  Edwin Shanks and a man named Ferrell were also shot dead in the fight.  Edwin Henderson was mortally wounded and died near the battlefield.  Mr. Robert Parrish, Sr., who lives near Adel, had his arm broken by a bullet in this fight. The Indians lost 27 killed and a number wounded.  We have no account of any prisoners being taken.  The battle of Brushy Creek was fought in a low, marshy swamp where Indian cunning was pitted against the invincible courage of the Anglo-Saxon, and in five minutes after the fight opened there was not a live red skin to be seen.

From this place Capt. Knight marched his company to what is now Clinch county.  He overtook the Indians at Cow Creek, where a sharp engagement took place, resulting in the killing of three and the taking of five prisoners. Mr. Brazelius Staten was dangerously wounded in this fight but finally recovered.

This ended the Indian fighting in which Capt. Knight’s company were engaged. Half a century has passed since then.  Nearly all the actors in that brief but bloody drama are at rest beyond the stars. A few of them are still among us, the valiant pioneers of this country, who bared their breasts to the bullets of the savages in order that their descendants might possess this fair land in peace.

The following is a list, as near as can now be ascertained, of the living and dead of Capt. Knight’s company.  The company numbered 120 men, many of whom came from neighboring counties, whose names cannot now be recalled.

LIVING–Bryan J. Roberts, Moses Giddens, John Studstill, Jonathan Studstill, Aaron Knight, Guilford Register, Echols county.) David Clements, William Giddens, John and Nathan Roberts, Fla.) (Zeke Parrish, Lowndes county,) John McMillain, John McDermid and Robert Parrish.

DEAD–George Henedge, Jeremiah Shaw, Daniel Sloan, John Lee, Moses Lee, James Patten, William J. Roberts, Isben Giddens, Jacob Giddens, Elbert Peterson, John Knight, Thomas Giddens, Harmon Gaskins, John Gaskins, William Gaskins, Sam Lee, Frederick Giddens, James Parrish, Martin Shaw, Archie McCranie, Daniel McCranie, Malcom McCranie, Alexander Patterson, James Edmondson, David Mathis, Thomas Mathis, Levi Shaw, William Peters, Jonathan Knight, Levi J. Knight and Brazelias Staten.

The Indians who passed through here belonged to the Creek Nation and were on their way from Roanoke to Florida to join the Seminoles.  They were first discovered in this county by Samuel Mattox, at Poplar Head, near where Mr. Tom Futch now lives.  Mattox was afterward hanged for murdering the fifteen-year-old son of Mr. Moses Slaughter.  Most of these Indians reached the Okeefenokee Swamp where they were joined by a large band of Seminoles.  From then until 1839 these savages did much damage to the white settlers in the vicinity of the Swamp, but in that year they were driven out and took refuge in the Everglades, where they were, with the exception of a small number, finally captured and sent to Arkansas.
Since the above was put in type another of the gallant old Indian fighters, Mr. Aaron Knight, has joined his comrades beyond the stars.

A 1915 reprint of this article also  noted “The Malcolm McCranie referred to was the father of Mr. Geo. F. McCranie, cashier of the Bank of Willacoochee and Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners of Coffee.”

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Bryan J. Roberts ~ Lowndes Pioneer

Bryan (or Bryant) John Roberts (1809-1888)

In 1827, eighteen-year-old Bryan J Roberts arrived in the newly created Lowndes County, GA with his parents and siblings.  His father, John Roberts, settled the family on a plot of land situated near the Cat Creek community, eventually establishing a large plantation there.

Bryan J. Roberts

Bryan J Roberts 1809-1888. Cat Creek Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

According to Folks Huxford, Bryan J. Roberts was born in Wayne County, GA on June 4, 1809, a son of Phoebe Weeks Osteen and John R.  Roberts.

In Lowndes County, on January 26, 1832 Bryan J. Roberts married Wealthy A. Mathis (1813 – 1888). As a young woman, she had come from Bulloch County, GA with her parents, Rhoda Monk and James Mathis, to settle at the site of present day Cecil, GA in Cook County.

Wealthy and Bryan J. Roberts established their home place on the land that had been settled by his father in 1827.  Of B. J. Roberts, Huxford says. “He had a large plantation and lived in comfortable circumstances.”     Roberts may have been among the earliest  planters to introduce pecans in Georgia, as pecans are mentioned in a Civil War letter written by John Hagan, of Berrien County, dated June 2, 1862.  Hagan wrote to his wife, Amanda Roberts:

 ”Give my respects to your Uncle Bryant J. Reoberts…Tel him I would like to heare how his little cob corn is doing. Also letter me know if Capt Martin has paid his cotoe [quota] of the precans [pecans] for introductsion.”

Children of Wealthy Mathis and Bryan J. Roberts:

  1.  John Jackson Roberts (1832 – 1907), married: (l) Susan Vickers daughter of Lewis Vickers; (2) Mrs. Catherine Gaskins widow of John Gaskins of Coffee County.
  2. James W. Roberts (1834 – 1900), married Elizabeth “Eliza” Edmondson daughter of David Adam Edmondson .
  3. Mary Ann Roberts (1835-1919), married Archibald Duncan Wilkes of Berrien County.
  4. Stephen N. Roberts (1837 – 1863), never married; joined the Berrien Minute Men in 1861 and served at Brunswick, Sapelo Island and Savannah; died of pneumonia January 6, 1863 in Lowndes County, GA; buried at Owen Smith Cemetery, Hahira, GA.
  5. Jemima Roberts (1839-1913), married William H. Burgsteiner son of John R. Burgsteiner.
  6. Rachel Roberts (1841-1867), married Jacob Dorminy son of John Bradford Dorminy, Jr. of Irwin County.
  7. Nancy Roberts (1843- ),  married William S. Phillips of Stockton.
  8. Warren H. Roberts (1846-1908), married: (1) Virginia S. “Jennie” Edmondson daughter of Rev. John Edmondson; (2) Isabella Strickland, daughter of Charles Strickland.
  9. William K. Roberts (1847-1908), married Phyllis McPherson Oct 27, 1888 in Berrien County, GA.
  10. Leonard L Roberts (1849-1919 ),  married Georgia Ann Baskin, daughter of James Madison Baskin
  11. Elizabeth “Betty” Roberts (1851-1933), married Daniel D. Andrew Jackson Dorminy, son of John Bradford Dorminy, Jr. of Irwin County.
  12. Martha Roberts  (1854-1898), married Frank Moore son of Levi Moore.

From 1827 to 1829, Bryan J. Roberts served as an ensign in the 663rd district of the Lowndes County militia. He was elected Justice of the Peace in the 658th district, Lowndes County, for the 1834-1837 term. He served in the Indian War of 1836-1838 as a private in Captain Levi J. Knight’s company of Lowndes County militia, and was one of those present at the skirmish with Indians at William “Short-arm Billy” Parker’s place preceding the Battle of Brushy Creek.

Prior to his death, Bryan J. Roberts divided his property among his children. This “self-administration” of his estate was reported in The Valdosta Times, August 8, 1885.

The Valdosta Times
August 8, 1885

His Own Administrator.

      Mr. Bryant Roberts is 77 years old, and he moved to this county in 1827.  He has reared 10 children and there are numerous grand-children.  The old gentleman lost his wife last year, and since that time he has been lonely at the old homestead.  Last week he summonsed all his children together and made up and inventory of all he owned.  It footed up $10,000.  Six thousand of his property was divided up into ten equal parts, and each child drew for his or her share.  The old gentleman reserved $4,000 for his own use for the balance of his life.  The homestead was included in the property divided, and the old gentleman will break up housekeeping and spend the remainder of his declining years around among his children.
      Mr. Roberts has taken this step because he feels that the silken cord has weakened under the weight of years and he prefers to be his own administrator.  We trust his children will make it pleasant for the old gentleman during the remainder of his sojourn with them.

According to the above newspaper clipping, Wealthy Mathis Roberts died about 1884. on July 8, 1888 Bryan J. Roberts followed her in death. They were buried at Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Church.


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Baseball in the Wiregrass

While the Ray City baseball team wasn’t up for league play, the Valdosta “Otters” and other Wiregrass teams formed various associations.  The Empire State League of 1913 included Brunswick, Waycross, Cordele, Thomasville, and Americus, GA.

1909 Rays Mill Diamondmen Sweltered in July Heat

Organized baseball was played in Berrien County, GA at least as early as the 1880s (see 1884 Memoriam to the Alapaha Boys of Summer). By the early 1900s practically every town in America sported a baseball team, and Ray City, GA was no exception.

The local team was the public face of the town. A city with a professional baseball team was a city to be reckoned with; a city with a winning professional team was a winner.”  – Society for American Baseball Research

Over the years, Ray City has produced a number of high school, college and minor league baseball players and coaches, and at least one player who made it to the major league.  But from sporting news in the state newspapers, it appears that in the summer of 1909 the Ray City (then known as Rays Mill) team struggled against other local teams .

The  July 1, 1909 edition of the Atlanta Georgian and News reported that the Rays Mill team gave up a series to Milltown, two games to one:

Milltown, Ga., July 1. – in a hotly contested bame [sic] of baseball Milltown won its second victory from Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 4. The game was played on Milltown’s new diamond. Schucker and Shaw did the 
battery work for the home team, while Sellman and Shaw did the same duties for the visitors. Schucker, for the home team, only gave up three hits, struck out fifteen men and did on walk but one man. Sellman, of the visitors, gave up seven hits, walked two men and struck out nine men. Milltown has played three games with Rays Mill, winning the first , 16 to 2, and the second game went to Rays Mill by the score of 5 to 6 in ten innings. The milltown team was composed of all home players.

The Rays Mill team followed up with another loss to the Nashville team.

Atlanta Georgian and News, Jul. 6, 1909 — page 10
Nashville, Ga., July 6. – The Nashville team met and defeated the Rays Mill team Monday by the score of 10 to 3.  J. Hill, of Nashville, did not allow a single hit. He made four hits out of five times up.
Nashville, Ga., July 6. – The Bannockburn ball club came over to Nashville Monday and was defeated by the Nashville second nine by the score of 8 to 4. Thompson pitched for the visitors, while E. Griner pitched for the home club.

Regardless of the home team wins or losses, the Ray City baseball team remained popular for decades.  Soon, home games were being hosted on the diamond at Mayhaw Lake Resort . Later, the team played on an open field next to the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad and Jones Street.

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The Empire State League: South Georgia Baseball in 1913

G. V. Hardie Was Visionary Merchant

For about 30 years in the early 1900s Gordon Vancie Hardie was a merchant of Ray City, GA.  Among his marketing strategies was an arrangement with A. K. Hawkes Company to bring a visiting optician to Ray City.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

G. V. Hardie ran advertisements in The Valdosta Times announcing this service for his patrons.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City Druggist, brings optomistrist to town.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City druggist, brings A. K. Hawkes optician to town.

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source:

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source:

About Gordon Vancie Hardie (1890-1937)…

Gordon Vancie Hardie was born in Pinetta, Florida on Tuesday, May 13, 1890, a son of Jessie F. and Lila D. Hardie. Gordon had a brother, Grover, who became a physician, and two sisters, Pearl and Maud.

Gordon spent his boyhood days in Florida; at the time of the census of 1900, his family was living in Withlacoochee, Madison County, Florida.

By 1910, Gordon’s father had moved the family to Georgia. Nineteen year-old Gordon was living in his parents household in Hahira, GA, where his father had acquired a farm.

While his father farmed, Gordon worked as a drygoods salesman. One of the merchants in town was Irvin “Plimp” Hodges. Plimp had spent most of his life farming in Lower Fork, Lowndes County, GA, but some time prior to 1910 he brought his wife and daughter, Addie, to live in Hahira, GA. Perhaps Gordon Hardie met Addie at her father’s store. Somehow they became acquainted and soon enough they were married.

Gordon Vancie Hardie and Addie B. Hodges were wed on November 25, 1912 in Lowndes County, GA. Perry T. Knight, Minister of God and native of Ray’s Mill, GA, performed the ceremony.

From about 1911 to his death in 1937 Gordon Vancie Hardie made Ray City, GA his home. He was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.


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