Ray City Seeress Mollie Hall Helps Solve Moon Murder

Molly Reddick Hall was a widely known psychic who lived in Ray City, GA in the early 1900s. Family members tell us she was the older sister of Stella Reddick Wright and raised Stella after their mother passed away. (See Stella Wright ~ Seeress of Ray City, GA). In early 1920 Molly Hall gained attention for her role in solving the murder of Mrs.  Susan Hinson Moon, near Adel, GA, about 12 miles west of Ray City.   She gave a reading which broke the case and led to a confession.

When Susan Moon disappeared from her LaConte, GA home in the first few days of January, 1920, her nephew Jim Johnson sought  the help of the Ray City seeress in locating  her whereabouts.  After consulting the cards, Molly Hall told Johnson where to look for Susan Moon.  Taking this news to the police, Johnson became a suspect himself.

Jim Johnson, his cousin Lacy Spires, Sam T. Cooper and Melton Moon, the son of Susan Moon, were arrested for the murder.

A series of articles from state papers tell how the crime unraveled.

The first newspaper accounts of the murder focused on the confession of Susan Moon’s son. Although he had taken his mother’s married name, Melton Moon’s actual name was Milton Hinson.  But the state newspapers continued to refer to him as Melton Moon.  He was 34 years old and worked as a farm laborer.  He had registered for the WWI draft in 1918, and claimed a wife as a dependent but in 1920, Hinson, aka Moon, lived with his mother.  Newspaper accounts suggested that Hinson was “weak-minded,” “of unsound mind,”  or “mentally irresponsible, although he had served in the army awhile.”

Within days of Hinson’s confession, the story of Molly Hall’s role in locating the body was revealed in state newspapers.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, held in the murder of his mother, Susan Moon. Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, held in the murder of his mother, Susan Moon. Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Jan 6, 1920.

SON HELD FOR HIS MOTHER’S DEATH

Milton Moon Held in Cook County With Another Man on Charge of Murder.

    Moultrie, Ga., Jan. 5. – The finding of the body yesterday of Mrs. Susan Moon, in a swamp near Sparks, was followed by the arrest today of her son, Milton Moon, and S. T. Cooper on the charge of Murder. The woman had been missing since Thursday.  Robbery is believed to have been the motive for the crime.

SEARCHING PARTIES FIND BODY HID IN A SWAMP

    Adel, Ga., Jan. 5. – Melt Moon and a man named Cooper, were arrested yesterday at Sparks on suspicion of being the slayers of Mrs. Sue Moon, mother of Melt Moon, whose body was found yesterday about a quarter of a mile from the home, three miles above Sparks on the National Highway.
    Mrs. Moon had been stabbed above the heart.  She had been missing since Thursday.  Searching  parties failed to find her until yesterday, after Moon had told them where her body could be found.  It is said, however, he did not confess the crime.  Moon is subject to fits and is regarded as mentally irresponsible, although he served in the army awhile.

Melton Moon Confesses, Jan 9, 1920, Atlanta Constitution

Melton Moon Confesses, Jan 9, 1920, Atlanta Constitution

Atlanta Constitution
Jan 9, 1920

MELT MOON CONFESSES KILLING HIS MOTHER

Describes the Cold-Blooded Crime to Coroner’s Jury in Valdosta.

Sparks, Ga., January 8. – (Special.)  It was learned here today that Melt Moon, who is being held in the Lowndes county jail at Valdosta suspected of being involved in the killing of his mother, Mrs. Susie Moon, confessed last night to the killing of his mother.  H. L. Lovett, justice of the peace here who held the inquest over the dead body, together with two other men who served on the jury in the inquest, visited Moon in the Valdosta jail Wednesday night and while there Moon is said to have confessed to having been the only person involved in the crime.
    He asserts that he came home from the field to get his dinner and got into a general quarrel with his mother.  He struck her in the pit of the stomach, knocking her unconscious,and thinking that he had killed her, began dragging her towards the nearby woods in order to hide her.  On the way, however, she showed signs of recovering consciousness and Moon hit her several times on the head with a lightwood knot.
    After reaching the woods he stabbed her several times in the heart with his knife.   Moon, who is the son of the murdered woman, has been held in Valdosta jail, together with Jim Johnson, S. P. Cooper and Lacy Spires, the latter under suspicion.  All except Moon were released today, following the confession of Moon.
    Mrs. Moon was found dead last Sunday near her home at LaConte, three miles from here, with severe wounds in her head and breast.

No Change in Story.

Valdosta, Ga., January 8.-(Special.)- The confession of Melton Moon to the cold-blooded murder of his mother, which he made to members of the coroner’s jury at the Lowndes county jail Wednesday night, clears up the mystery which had surrounded one of the most brutal crimes ever committed in this section.  Moon has made no change today in the story he told the coroner’s jury last night, and shows no more concern over the matter than he did before.
    In the opinion of Jailer Lofton and others who have observed him closely since he was brought to jail, Moon is of unsound mind and if not actually crazy is very weak mentally.  His appearance is that of an indolent, weak-minded person.  It is presumed that he will remain in jail here until tried in the Cook superior court.

Ray City psychic Molly Hall helps solve murder of Susan Moon, aka Susan Hinton. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

Ray City psychic Molly Hall helps solve murder of Susan Moon, aka Susan Hinton. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, January 15, 1920.

MURDER OF MOTHER ADMITTED BY MOON

Confession of Half-witted Son Exonerates Other Men He Implicated.

SPARKS, Jan. 8. – The sensational murder of Mrs. Susan Moon has been stirred up by the complete confession of Melton Moon, her half-witted son, that he killed the old lady and that other men held in connection with the murder were entirely innocent.  Sam Cooper was released custody, Jim Johnson and Lacy Spires, nephews of the dead woman, were released yesterday.
    The confession of Moon, which was heard in the jail at Valdosta by coroner H. L. Lovett and Rev. G.W. ????, a member of the jury, was started at 11 o’clock today after the coroner’s jury had been convened.  A verdict in line with the confession was rendered.

Moon’s Revolting Confession.
Moon told the coroner and Mr. ???? that he and his mother had been quarreling because she refused to give him $10 with which to go to town. When he came home to dinner Thursday the quarrel with his mother became violent, and he hit her in the stomach.  She knocked unconscious, and he began to drag away from the house. When she showed signs of returning consciousness, he became frightened at what he had done and picked up a light wood knot and beat her over the head. After he reached the branch, where the body was concealed, he drew his knife and stabbed her several times.

    Following the disappearance of Mrs. Moon Thursday, a search was instituted. The body was found concealed under leaves several hundred yards from the Moon home, at Laconte, three miles from Sparks.  There were many —wounds about the head.  Melt then implicated Sam Cooper and said that he did the killing.  Cooper was arrested and has been held since.  Jim Johnson and Lacy Spires were also arrested.  Johnson visited Mollie Hall, and aged negro fortune teller at Ray City, who shuffled the cards and told him where the body would be found.  He told the searchers of this and after the body was located, Johnson was placed under arrest.

Moon Seems Little Concerned.

    VALDOSTA, Jan. 8. – Melton Moon, who has confessed the revolting details of the murder of his mother at Laconte last Thursday, today shows no more concern over the matter than he did before.  In the opinion of Jailer Lofton and others who have observed him closely since he was brought to jail, Moon is of unsound mind and if not actually crazy, is very weak mentally.  His appearance is that of an indolent weak-minded person.  It is presumed that he will remain in the Cook County jail here until tried in the Cook County Superior Court, which convenes in March.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, is acting the crazy part in advance of trial. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, Jan 22, 1920.

Melton Moon, aka Milton Hinson, is acting the crazy part in advance of trial. Bainbridge Post-Searchlight, Jan 22, 1920.

Bainbridge Post-Searchlight
Jan 22, 1920

Melt Moon is Acting the Crazy Part Now

Valdosta, Jan 15. – Since the night he made the full confession to Judge Lovett, acting coroner of Cook County, of the murder of Mrs. Susie moon, Melt Moon is reported to have been apparently crazy in the Lowndes county jail.
    The officials at the jail say that during the several days Moon was confined in jail before he made the confession he acted in a perfectly normal manner but immediately following his talk with Judge Lovett, he has changed entirely.
    He talks very little and will answer no questions at all.  If he is pressed for a conversation he will beat himself about the body and butt his head against the wall. He will not remove his clothing at night when he retires and gets on his cot in all kinds of strange positions.
    His sister apparently hardly realizes yet that he committed the crime to which he has confessed.  Since her return to her home in Florida she has written the jail authorities asking them to get further particulars from her brother about the crime.  He will not discuss the matter at all and pays no attention to remarks addressed to him. A relative visited him a few days ago and offered him some money which he refused to notice at all.
    A letter addressed to him was received a few days ago an when it was handed to him he laid it down without opening and has not yet touched it so far as is known.
    While he has [not] been considered real bright, yet he has never been regarded as crazy by the people who knew him.  However, it would seem now that he is laying the ground work for a defense when his case comes to a trial.

Following the confession and the coroners inquest, an indictment for murder was handed down.   The case was heard in the Cook County Superior Court before Judge Dickerson on March 12, 1921.

Milton Hinson, alias Milton Moon, was indicted for the homicide of his mother; and at the same term of court he filed his plea of not guilty, and a special plea of insanity. The defendant was found to have sufficient reason to distinguish between right and wrong and therefore criminally responsible for his actions. On these grounds, the defense’s motion that he lacked the mental capacity to make a free and voluntary confession was overruled, and the confession was admitted.

On the trial of the case the jury returned a verdict of guilty of murder, with a recommendation of life imprisonment; and the defendant was accordingly sentenced by the court. He made a motion for a new trial, which was overruled. Milton Hinson, aka Moon appealed the case to the Georgia Supreme court, but the Justices affirmed the guilty verdict.

Milton Hinson was sent to the Georgia State Prison in Baldwin County.  He was enumerated there in 1930, and was released some time before 1940. Afterwards he moved to Florida.

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Ray City’s ‘Freakish’ White Quail

In the fall of 1921, L. J. Clements reported shooting a ‘freakish’ white quail near Ray City, GA in 1921. The Clements were prominent citizens of the community; the family owned the Clements Lumber company, a large sawmill operation located at Ray City on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railroad.  In the early 1900s, south Georgia newspapers  occasionally reported albino quail being taken by Wiregrass hunters, and one 1914 news item claimed them to be quite common around Brunswick, GA .

The Thomasville Daily Times-Enterprise
November 25, 1921  Page 3

White Quail Killed in Lowndes by L. J. Clements.

Valdosta, Ga,., Nov 25.  – Following close upon the opening of the quail shooting season comes the first white  Bob White of the season.  This beautiful but somewhat freakish member of the quail tribe was killed yesterday by L. J. Clements while hunting on the lands of J. S. Clements about three miles from Ray City.  The bird was full grown, perfectly white all over except underneath the body where there were some of the regular quail markings.  The bird was shot from a covey as it was flushed from the field.

 

Samuel Register and the East Florida Militia

According to Folks Huxford, Samuel Register came from Appling County to Lowndes County, GA about 1826 and settled in the 10th Land District near Possum Branch, not too far from the homestead of Levi J. Knight and the future site of Ray City, GA. Samuel Register’s place later became the farm of Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw.

Samuel Register was born in Sampson County, North Carolina on December 1, 1786, almost three years before that state would ratify the U.S. Constitution. He was a son of Dorcas and John Register.

Some time before 1804 Samuel Register came with his family to Bulloch County, GA where he apparently made his home for some 20 years, although there is no records to show that he ever owned land there. In  April of 1806 he married Elizabeth Skinner, a native of South Carolina.

When the U.S. went to war with Britain from 1812-1815 in response to British actions against American expansion and trade, it appears that  Samuel Register, like other Wiregrass pioneers (see Dryden Newbern)  joined the  Georgia Militia.   In the War of 1812 the Georgia Militia was occupied with three main theaters of operation: the Creek War of 1813-14, the British blockade, and the British occupation of St. Marys and Cumberland Island in 1814-15.  British  control of St. Marys, GA would have disturbed the economy of the entire Wiregrass region, interrupting 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 incursions is described  in the New Georgia Encyclopedia  article on the War of 1812.

After the War of 1812, Samuel and Elizabeth remained in Bulloch county. GA until about 1824 when they moved to Appling County, and then on to Lowndes county in 1826.  In 1827,  Samuel Register  received a draw in the land lotteries for his service as a soldier in the War of 1812.

The land lotteries, legitimized by questionable and coercive treaties, continued the encroachment by settlers on the ancestral lands of Native Americans in Georgia, inevitably leading to conflict.  In Florida, hostilities were greatly escalated in December 1835 by the Dade Massacre, where Seminole Indians resisting forced removal to the West   wiped out a force of 110 regular army troops under the command of Major Francis Langhorn Dade.  When conflict between the Wiregrass pioneers and the resistant Indians erupted in 1836, local militia fought engagements in Berrien county.

In the summer of 1836, a company of militia under Capt. Levi J. Knight of near Ray City was sent to protect the settlers from marauding Indians on their way to join the Seminoles in Florida.  When a party of Indians plundered the plantation of William Parker, near Milltown, the militia pursued them N. E. across the county overtaking them near Gaskins Pond not far from the Alapaha River.  Several were killed and some injured as the Indians fled across the river.  A few days later the militia encountered more Indians at Brushy Creek and ran them off.  That was the last real battle with the Indians in this section.

Across the state line in Florida,  actions against Indians were being fought by militia on a regular basis. The Battle of San Felasco Hammock was fought  September 18, 1836, when a force of 25 US Army Regulars and 100 horse-mounted militia from Fort Gilleland, with 25 armed residents of Newnansville, FL engaged and routed about 300 Indians led by Seminole Chief John Jumper. Fort Gilleland, a picketed fortification located south of the Santa Fe River at Newnansville in present day Alachua County, FL, was one of a string of forts stretching from Jacksonville, FL to Clay’s Landing, at the mouth of the Suwanee River.  Newnansville,  the largest inland town in East Florida, was strategically located at the junction of the Jacksonville road and the Bellamy Road which ran from St. Augustine west to Tallahassee and Pensacola. Newnansville was about about 80 miles southeast of Troupville,  in Lowndes County, GA.

In the spring of 1837 militia troops from Lowndes county were sent across the state line to join the forces at Fort Gilleland:

Jacksonville Courier
Jacksonville, May 11, 1837

—Extract of a letter from Col. Mills, to the Editor, dated Fort Gilliland, May 8.

“Major Staniford, with two companies of the 2d Infantry, arrived here yesterday in obedience to orders from Maj. Gen. Jesup, from Lowndes county, Georgia, and are here encamped, awaiting orders.” 

The following summer, in 1837, Samuel Register and other Lowndes county men went south to join the East Florida Volunteer militia to fight against the Indians on the Florida frontier. According to the records of the Florida Department of Military Affairs, Register traveled first to Fort Palmetto, on the Suwanee River at Fanning Springs, FL.

Samuel Register and his sons, David and John,   served with “Captain John J. Johnson’s Company of the 2nd Regiment, East Florida Mounted Volunteers, commanded by Colonel William J. Mills, ordered into the service of the United States by Major General Thomas J. Jessup under the Act of Congress approved May 23d 1836, for six months from the 16th day of June 1837 to the 18th day of December 1837.  Company enrolled at Fort Palmetto, Florida, and marched sixty miles to place of rendezvous at Fort Gilliland, Fla. Company mustered in by Lieutenant W. Wall, 3d Artillery.”

His son-in-law, John Tomlinson, and two other Registers in this same service and company: Samuel Register Jr and John Register, Jr..  Seaborn Lastinger, of Lowndes County, served as a private; he would be shot for desertion during the Civil War. James B. Johnson and Young Johnson , grand uncles of JHP Johnson of Ray City, served in the Florida Drafted Mounted Militia.

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n71/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n72/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Samuel Register was honorably discharged at Newnansville in December, 1837. He subsequently “served another enlistment in the Indian War under the same Capt Johnson (April 1, 1838-July 31, 1838). He also served a third term under this same Capt Johnson in the Georgia mounted Militia (Aug 25, 1840-Oct 18, 1840). On his Bounty Land application dated Nov 23, 1850, he was granted 160 acres of land for this service. His son-in-law John Tomlinson (husband of Zilpha) who served in the same military unit was granted 80 acres of land for his services”

Between 1840 and 1842, Samuel Register sold out his home-place in the 10th District, and moved from Possum Branch to the 11th Land District where he acquired Land Lot 500.   This lot was in that part of Lowndes county that was cut into the new county of Clinch in 1850, and in 1920 was cut out of Clinch into Lanier County.

In 1856, it was a great boon to Register when the Atlantic & Gulf railroad was charted  to run   from a connection with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf railroad at Screven, by way of his land to Thomasville. But when the surveyors for the new railroad  selected a route through Valdosta bypassing Troupville, that old town was doomed.   Register had a portion of Lot 500 platted into town lots and founded the town of “Registerville.” Although when the railroad people came through, they changed the name to “Stockton”, in honor of one of their contractors, a Mr. Stockton, who had charge of the road construction.

Children of Samuel Register and Elizabeth Skinner:

  1. Zilpha Register, born Feb. 4, 1807, married her first cousin John Tomlinson.
  2. Eady (Edith) Register, born Mar. 1, 1809, married Thomas Mathis Nov. 1, 1826 in Lowndes County.
  3. Guilford Register, born Jan. 7, 1811, married Priscilla Ann DeVane.
  4. David Register, born Apr. 10, 1813, married Matilda McDaniel of Bulloch County.
  5. William Register, born Sept. 24, 1814, married Luraney Harnage from Liberty County.
  6. John Register,  born June 10, 1819, married 1st Elizabeth Cowart, 2nd.Mary Ann Fiveash.
  7. Rebecca Register, born Apr. 5, 1821, married Reverend Hillery Cowart of Echols County.
  8. Phoebe Register, born Aug. 15, 1823, married Zachariah Lee of Clinch County.
  9. Jincy Register, born June 15, 1824, married Moses C. Lee of Berrien County.
  10. Ivy Register, born Apr. 22, 1825, married 1st Leta Lee, married 2nd Lavinia Arnold
  11. Samuel E. Register, born Sept. 16, 1826, married 1st Seneth Lee, married 2nd Mary Hutto, married 3rd Josephine Guthrie, lived in Berrien County.
  12. Elizabeth Register, born Aug. 21, 1828, married William Patten of present Lanier County.
  13. Reubin Register, born Nov. 25, 1830, married Harriet Brown, lived in present Berrien co.
  14. Martha Register, born Dec. 18, 1831, married Hillery P. Mathis of present Lanier co.

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Reverend John Slade of the Troupville Circuit

Reverend John Slade, Methodist minister, came to the Wiregrass to take up preaching around 1821 and he was a familiar figure throughout South Georgia and Northern Florida.  “He was tall, with an athletic build, high forehead and a strong, clear, musical voice. He was described as being very striking in appearance, and it was said that he possessed an intellect of high order and that he resembled Andrew Jackson,” according to the history of Wakulla Methodist Church where he later served as pastor. On July 31, 1825 Reverend Slade married a Tallahassee, FL girl whom descendants say was Mary Bell.  Her brothers founded the town of Bellville, TX.

In 1826 Reverend Slade rode the Tallahassee Mission which encompassed a vast area of north Florida and South Georgia, including the newly created Lowndes County. Lowndes then included the areas of present day Berrien, Lanier, Brooks, Cook and Tift counties.There were few settlers and very few, if any, churches in this territory.  About 1832, a Methodist church was established at the site of Troupville, Lowndes county, but the population of Methodist churches in Lowndes was not sufficient to sustain a  pastor preaching on a regular circuit until 1841. In 1847 and 1854 Reverend Slade was the circuit-rider on the  Troupville circuit.

Quoting from Hamilton W. Sharpe’s reminiscences in the Wesleyan Christian Advocate in 1884:

“I recall the Rev. John Slade, one of the first preachers of this section. He was a good man, powerful in prayer, and a clear exponent of Gospel truth; is long since gone. At a session of the Florida Conference in Thomasville presided over by Bishop Early, the Bishop was so impressed with Brother Slade’s prayers that he seldom called on any other brother to lead in prayer.”

Reverend Slade was superannuated by the South Carolina Conference in 1829 on account of exposures suffered by him while in this frontier section…

 

Circuit riding Methodist preacher.

The following facts about Reverend Slade come from The History of Jefferson County, FL:

Searching available records for the earliest establishment of Methodism in Florida, it is found that in 1821 the Reverend John J. Triggs was in charge of Allapaha mission in the southern part of Georgia. During the year he amplified his work, and extended his labors southward. In all probability he was the first Methodist minister to preach in middle Florida, after it became American Territory. Associated with him in the work of evangelizing the newer south, was the Reverend John Slade, hardy pioneer of the faith, who prosecuted his mission of extending the Gospel with such ardor and success that he has been called the “Father of Methodism in Florida.”

Reverend John Slade, along with Reverend Fleming Bates and Thomas Ellis, witnessed the Last Will and Testament of  John Hagan, dated Oct. 28, 1822 and probated Nov. 4, 1822, Camden County, GA.  Reverend Bates was an Elder in the Primitive Baptist faith, and of the original presbytery that constituted Union Church, the mother of all the Primitive Baptist churches in this section.   The Executors of Hagan’s estate were Malachi Hagan and William Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist and father of Ray City settler Levi J. Knight.

In The History of Georgia Methodism from 1786 to 1866,  Reverend George Smith writes about Slade’s first experience as a circuit riding preacher.

…a mission in the southwest of the new purchase was organized, to which two preachers were sent, John J. Triggs and John Slade. To reach this appointment they had to ride through the Indian nation for a long distance, and had to ride in all four hundred miles from the conference.

Triggs had gone out from the last conference, to organize the mission, and now an assistant was sent to him, John Slade, who was recognized as the father of Florida Methodism, though he was not the first to preach the Gospel in the new territory.

He was born in South Carolina, and was now thirty-three years old. He had travelled one year as a supply before 1823, but now for the first time entered the travelling connection, and was appointed to the Chattahoochee Mission.

After travelling about seven years he located, and gave useful labor as a local preacher, to the building up of the Church in Florida. He re- entered the Florida Conference in 1845, and travelled in it till his death in 1854. He was a fine specimen of a man. He was tall, well proportioned, with a fine face. He sang well and preached with power. The country in which Triggs and Slade preached was in the corner of three States, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. Their circuit was an immense one. The people were perhaps the rudest in the States, and though now and then, on the better lands, they found some thrifty settlers, generally they were the poorest and most ignorant class of stock-raisers.

Fredrick Smallwood, church historian for the Attapulgus, GA United Methodist Church wrote of Reverend Slade in 2002. Slade is believed to have founded the church at Attapulgus about 1830.

“Rev. John Slade did serve (as circuit riding preacher) with John T. Trigg on the Chattahoochee Mission of the Oconee District of the South Carolina Conference in 1823. The Georgia Conference didn’t come into existence until 1830. The life of a Circuit Riding Preacher was a hard life. He traveled by horseback, as there were no roads and few towns. He would travel as far as his horse could take him each day, in all kinds of weather, spend the night at the house where he found himself when nightfall caught him. He would usually preach to this house and neighbors, if there were some close by. He usually made his circuit once a month. He was also paid very little and usually these preachers were not married nor owned homes of their own for obvious reasons. Due to the toll on his health, he was required to “locate”; that means not ride the circuit but stay in one place. Since he didn’t ride a circuit, he didn’t get paid either.”

Reverend John Slade was a Mason and when a lodge was formed at Troupville, GA he became a member there. The lodge met on the first and third Tuesday nights upstairs in Swains Hotel, situated on the banks of Little River and owned by Morgan G. Swain.  According to the History of Lowndes County, GA, the new lodge was St. John the Baptist Lodge No. 184, constituted  at Troupville on November 2, 1854 with the following officers and charter members:

Reverend Thomas W. Ellis, Worshipful Master; Ephriam H. Platt, Senior Warden; Benjamin C. Clay, Junior Warden; Charles H. Howell, Secretary; John Brown, Treasurer; William H. Dasher, Senior Deacon; J. T. C. Adams, Junior Deacon; John B. Cashan, Tyler.

Other members in addition to Reverend Slade were: Norman Campbell, William C. Newbern, William T. Roberts, James H. Carroll, Adam Graham, Thomas Moore, William Dees, Daniel Mathis, Thomas D. Wilkes, S. D. Smith, James Harrell, J. N. Waddy. William J. Mabry, George Brown, William Jones, J. C. Pautelle, J. R. M. Smith, Reverend F. R. C. Ellis, Robert B. Hester, Andrew J. Liles, William Godfrey, W. D. M. Howell, Hustice Moore, J. Harris, W. H. Carter,  William A. Sanford, Willis Allen, Jeremiah Williams, William A. Carter, John R. Walker, William D. Martin, J. E. Stephens, R. W. Leverertt, L. M. Ayers, S. Manning, James Carter, Willis Roland, John W. Clark, James A. Darsey,  the Entered Apprentices Judge Richard A. Peeples, William Ashley, J. J. Goldwire, snd Fellowcrafts William T. Roberts and Moses Smith.

One of Slade’s fellow lodge members at Troupville was William J. Mabry, who in 1856 moved to Nashville, GA, seat of the newly created Berrien County, where he built the first Berrien court house in 1857 and also became the first Worshipful Master of Duncan Lodge No. 3. Later, the St. John the Baptist Lodge No. 184 was moved from Troupville to Valdosta, GA.

The following sketch of John Slade is from Annals of the American pulpit : or, Commemorative notices of distinguished American clergymen of various denominations : from the early settlement of the country to the close of the year eighteen hundred and fifty-five : with historical introductions published in 1859:

JOHN SLADE*
OF THE FLORIDA CONFERENCE.
1823—1854.

John Slade was born on Beech Branch, Beaufort District, S. C, on the 7th of April, 1790. He was brought up in comparative obscurity, with very limited advantages for education. When he was about thirty years of age, he became hopefully a subject of renewing grace, and connected himself with the Methodist Episcopal Church, in Camden County, Ga. He attributed his conversion, instrumentally, to the influence of his grandmother, an eminently pious person, who took great pains to give a right direction to his youthful mind, not only instructing him in the truths of religion, but often taking him with her, when he was a mere child, into the place of her private devotions, and earnestly supplicating for him the blessing of a renovated heart. After he had reached manhood, the good seed which had been thus early sown, germinated, and ultimately matured into a rich harvest of Christian virtues and graces.

Soon after he joined the Church, his brethren were so much impressed by his talents and piety that they gave him license to exhort. In 1822, he commenced his labours with the Rev. John J. Triggs, who had been appointed to the ” Early Mission and adjacent settlements.” After being thus engaged a short time, the Church licensed him to preach, and recommended him to the travelling connection. In 1823, he was admitted on trial in the South Carolina Conference, and appointed junior preacher (the Rev. J. J. Triggs, in charge) on the Chatahoochee Mission, embracing a large field in the Southwestern part of Georgia, and a portion of Alabama. In 1824, he was appointed in charge of the Early Mission, embracing in part the ground occupied the previous year, and quite an extent of territory in Florida. In 1825, he was admitted to full connection in the South Carolina Conference, ordained a Deacon by Bishop Roberts, and appointed in charge of the Appling circuit, in the Southeastern part of Georgia. On the 31st of July of this year he was married.

In 1826, he travelled the Tallahassee Mission, embracing a portion of Southern Georgia, and a large territory of wilderness country in Florida.

 

In 1827, he was appointed in charge of the Choopee circuit, in Georgia. On the 10th of February, 1828, he was ordained an Elder by Bishop Soule, at Catuden, S. C. His health having now become much impaired by manifold labours and exposures, he was placed on the superannuated list. This relation he sustained two years. At the Conference held at Columbia, S. C, in January, 1830, he asked for and obtained a location.

In this capacity he laboured in the Southern part of Georgia and in Florida, struggling not only with feeble health but with poverty, for fifteen years. In 1845, his health was so far restored that, upon the organization of the Florida Conference, in Tallahassee, he was re-admitted into the travelling connection, and appointed in charge of the Bainbridge circuit. In 1846, he travelled the Blakeley circuit; in 1847, the Troupville circuit; in 1848, the Warrior Mission. In 1849, he was returned to the Bainbridge circuit. In 1850, he was in charge of the Irwin circuit. In 1851, he travelled the Holmesville Mission. In 1852, he was appointed in charge of the Wakulla circuit. In 1853, he was returned to the Troupville circuit. In 1854, he was appointed to the Thomasville circuit, where he closed his labours and his life.

On the 17th of June, 1854, he attended an appointment at Spring Hill, and, while taking his horse from his buggy in the church-yard, was suddenly stricken down with paralysis. It was hoped, for some time, that he might recover; and, on the 24th, he preached a short sermon to his congregation, from Rev. xv, 2, 3. The effort completely prostrated him, so that it now became manifest to all that his course was nearly run. He died the next evening, ” strong in faith, giving glory to God.” He was in the sixty-fifth year of his age, and had spent thirty-four years in the vocation of a Christian minister. He left a widow and two daughters.

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FROM THE REV. PEYTON P. SMITH OF THE FLORIDA CONFERENCE.

Albany, Ga., January 24, 1860.

Rev. and Dear Sir: My personal acquaintance with the Rev. John Slade commenced in Tallahassee, Fla., in the year 1839. From that time until his death, I was in the most intimate relations with him, both as a man and a minister. As a preacher in charge, he frequently served on circuits in districts over which I presided. In his travels, he often lodged under my roof, and knelt with me and mine around the family altar. I knew him long—I knew him well; and I knew him only to love him as a friend and faithful brother in the Lord.

In personal appearance John Slade was a noble specimen of a man. He was full six feet, two inches in height, of a large muscular frame, well-proportioned, strong and athletic, and weighing, in his prime, at least two hundred pounds. When I first saw him, he was considerably advanced in life, and by no means in robust health; the consequence of which was that his face presented a somewhat bony appearance, though his countenance was still ruddy, and his form dignified and commanding. He had a large, well-developed head, with a voice for both public speaking and singing, not inferior, on the whole, to that of any man whom I have ever known. In his general aspect and bearing, he always reminded me of the likenesses of General Jackson—he looked as though he was every way competent to be placed at the head of an army.

Mr. Slade possessed an intellect of a high order; and if he had enjoyed the advantages of a thorough intellectual training, he might have reached an eminence which was gained by few of his contemporaries. He possessed great courage, both physical and moral, and no privations and hardships were so great, and no dangers so appalling, but that he resolutely, cheerfully encountered them, whenever he met them in what he believed to be the path of duty.

As a Preacher, Mr. Slade adhered most closely to what he believed to be the teachings of the Bible. His views were strictly in accordance with those which form the accredited system of the Methodist Church; and he knew how to sustain them by forcible and appropriate argument. I cannot say that he devoted as much time to theological reading as some of his brethren; and yet his preaching betrayed no lack of familiarity with theological subjects. He wielded the sword of the Spirit with great energy, and sometimes with prodigious effect. I remember hearing him preach once at a Camp-meeting in Hamilton County, Fla., on the ” Divinity of Christ, and the triumphs of his Gospel;” and there was a sublimity, both in what he said and in his manner of saying it, worthy of the most distinguished of our pulpit orators. Not unfrequently his sermons carried with them revival fire, and would strike conviction to many a previously careless heart.

In 1840, while a local preacher, he held a meeting, in company with another preacher, which continued for ten days. The greater part of the preaching devolved upon him; and his sermons, though exceedingly plain, were characterized by great power, and breathed a truly apostolic spirit. Not only did many of the common people who listened to them receive the Gospel gladly, but not a small number of the rich, the proud, the fashionable, were deeply impressed under them, and bowed in penitence at the foot of the Cross. After the meeting closed, he baptized twenty-seven by affusion, and seventeen by immersion. But the very next day he was overtaken by a severe bodily affliction, by means of which he was taken off from his labours for a long time.

Soon after his recovery, an incident occurred, which may be referred to as illustrating his great zeal in the cause of his Master. He met a congregation, according to appointment, but they had failed to get their house covered. Not at all disconcerted by the circumstance, he stood, Bible in hand, beneath the burning rays of a summer’s sun, and preached Christ crucified to a handful of sinners, with three or four Christians, with as much fervour as if he had been addressing a large congregation. On this spot there now stands a large church edifice, with a proportionally large membership. Some who heard him on that occasion, still live, to testify to the unction with which he spoke, and to cherish his faithful labours in their grateful remembrances.

Allow me to add the testimony of one who was present at the organization of the Florida Conference Missionary Society, at which Mr. Slade, when far advanced in life, was also present:—

” To crown the interest of this novel and exciting scene, just at this moment, a hoary-headed man, of plain and unpretending exterior, was seen wending his way along the aisle of the Church, towards the altar. He was leaning, like Jacob, upon his staff—still there was something of elasticity about his step; the fire of his eye was yet undimmed, and, as he looked around him, a smile of holy triumph played across his manly features. Who was that timehonoured one? It was the Rev. Mr. Slade,—the first man who planted the standard of the Cross in Florida, when this fair land was a voiceless solitude. He it was, who, fired by the same zeal which still throws its unquenched halo around his declining years, left the abodes of civilization to bear the glad tidings of the Gospel to the few straggling settlers who had penetrated the haunts of the red man in these Southern wilds; a pioneer, bold, fearless, and strong in the Lord, who stood up in the wigwam, in the low-roofed cottage, or under the sheltering branches of some primeval oak, and mingled the voice of praise and thanksgiving with the hoarse murmurings of the wilderness, the roaring of the distant waterfall, and the desert howlings of the savage Indian. What must have been the feelings of that toil-worn veteran of the Cross, as he drew a contrast between those fading reminiscences of the past and the living realities of the present! What a tide of associations must have rolled across his mind, as he remembered the little cloud of witnesses, not larger than a man’s hand, that used to hover about his pathway in the days of his first sojourn in Florida, and beheld it now, with its magnificent folds extended along the face of the whole heavens, casting forth its alternate showers and shade upon the sunburnt soil, and causing the joyless desert to bloom and ‘ blossom as the rose!’ “

I will only add that Mr. Slade was distinguished for his humility, his selfdenial, his devotedness to Christ, his fidelity to all his Christian obligations. He cared not for the wealth or honour of the world, but was willing to ” count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.” His great desire was to do good; and to this he devoted all his powers of both body and mind. Salvation was his theme on the road, around the fireside, wherever he could gain the ear of a human being. He lived preeminently to glorify his Master, and the light of his example still lingers on earth, though he has gone to his reward.

I am very truly yours,

P. P. SMITH.

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Hod Clements ~ Doughboy

Hod P. Clements, a Ray City, GA veteran of World War I,  joined the US Army at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.   He reported as ordered at Nashville, GA on September 21, 1917, along with 28 other Berrien County men, for transportation to the “mobilization camp”  at newly opened  Camp Gordon, Chamblee, GA. Clements trained at Camp Wheeler in Macon, GA before shipping overseas.

Josea Peeples "Hod" Clements, 1918, , dressed in his World War I uniform and holding his rifle.

 21 Hosea Peeples “Hod” Clements, 1918, , dressed in his World War I uniform and holding his rifle. Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Archives, Office of Secretary of State. http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/vg2,3978

Hod served overseas from September 17, 1918 to July 5, 1919. He was assigned to Company F, 106th Engineers, a unit of the 31st  Division. Known as the Dixie Division it was made up of men from Georgia, Alabama, and Florida. The 31st was at Brest when the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918.

Thomasville Times Enterprise, Armistice Day, Nov 11, 1918

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Robert J. Starling was at Emory College, Valdosta, GA 1948

Emory at Valdosta

Robert J. “Bob” Starling, a son of Henry Laverne Starling and Allie Purvis, attended the Emory College campus in Valdosta in 1948. His father was the school lunchroom supervisor at Ray City, and his grandfather, Juniper Griffis Starling, was a pioneer settler of Coffee County, GA.

Bob Starling grew up in his father’s household on Park Street in Ray City, and attended the Ray City School along with his brothers and sisters. The Starling kids were all involved in the Glee Club. In 1939, Bob and his sister, Wylda Starling, played in the school’s Symphonet Band, along with Lamar Hardy, Fain Guthrie, Ferrell Herring, Barbara Swindle, Annie Martha Grisset, Lois Burkhalter, Kenneth Cameron, Billy Creech, Casswell Yawn, and Sadie Griner. His older siblings, Hubert C Starling and Juanelle Starling sang with the school chorus.

Robert J. Starling, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

Robert J. Starling, 1948, Emory Junior College, Valdosta, GA

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

Emory Junior College, 1940s, Valdosta, GA

Bob Starling went on to become Dr. Robert J. Starling. He married a nurse, Frances Carolyn Singletary, and practiced medicine in Donalsonville, GA.  He eventually purchased the hospital in Donalsonville and he and Frances operated it for many years.

A writer on the Donalsonville Forum: Remember the Good Ole Days, posted in 2011:

Dr Earle Moseley built the facility and it was known as Moseley Clinic and Hospital until his death in 1963. After that time, Dr Bob Starling purchased the hospital and it was renamed “Seminole Memorial Hospital”. Dr Jake Holley came that same year and joined him. Later he was joined by Dr Lewis Chisholm for a while, then later Dr Charlie O Walker.

Another writer in 2008 recalled the doctor’s bedside manner:

“Doctor Starling was such a kind and gentle man. I was never afraid of going to him as a child. I wish he was still around for my own children. I cut my hand when I was a senior in High School, and he was on call in the emergency room that day at lunch. I had never been to him; we always went to old man Dr.B….But Dr. Starling took me in, and soothed me quickly. He had 6 stitches in my hand before I could squeeze out another tear for my mom !! I remember Fran and Scott Starling, Linda and Robert too.They always had the best Halloween decorations!”

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Max Maurice Johnson

Max Maurice Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Max Maurice Johnson. Image courtesy of Julie Hutson.

Maurice “Max” Johnson grew up in Ray City, GA. As a boy he attended the Ray City School ( see Glee Club Gave 1939 Christmas Cantata and Ray City School 1934) graduating with the Ray City High School Class of 1940. The Johnsons were a prominent family in Ray City and have been the subject of several other posts, linked below. Records of the census enumeration conducted in the spring of 1940 show Maurice Johnson was a student and also working as assistant janitor at the school. His father, JHP Johnson, was a retired merchant, his mother, Chloe Johnson, was Assistant Postmaster of Ray City, and his older brother, Glen, was working as a band instructor.

During WWII, Maurice Johnson served in the U. S. Army Air Force as pilot of a B-24 Liberator bomber. Another brother, Lawton Walker Johnson, was killed in 1945 while serving in the Navy.  Other Ray City men in the Army Air Force included B-26 Marauder pilot James Swindle, and flying officer Jim Paulk.  Sgt. Mitchell Moore was assigned  to the 854 AAF Bomber Squadron, 491st Bomber Group, flying as a crewman on a B-24 Liberator. Charles Shaw was sent to the 96th Bomb Group, 8th Army Air Force, stationed at Snetterton Heath, England where he joined the crew of the B-17 Mischief Maker II. William C. Webb served in the Medical Corps of the Army Air Force and Howell Shaw served at Sedalia Army Air Field. Lt. Jamie Connell, of Nashville, served as a  navigator-bombardier. Saunto Sollami served in the Army Air Corp and came to the area after the war.

Max Maurice Johnson died on September 25, 2012 at  LaGrange, GA. He was buried at Carrollton Memory Gardens, Carrollton, GA.

Obituary of Max Maurice Johnson

Mr. Max Maurice Johnson, 90, of Carrollton passed away on September 25, 2012 at the West Georgia Hospice in LaGrange Georgia, after succumbing to his battle with bladder cancer.

Mr. Johnson was born in Ray City, GA on May 28, 1922, the son of the late Joseph Henry Pascal Johnson and Chloe Ann Gardner Johnson. He was a veteran of the U. S. Army Air Force where he served as a B-24 pilot during WWII from 1942 to 1945. He and his wife of 69 years, Frances A. Johnson, moved to Decatur, Georgia in the summer of 1960 then to Carrollton in 2000. They built a house next to their daughter and settled into a comfortable and productive lifestyle. They became active members of the Carrollton First United Methodist Church and enjoyed good relationships there.

His career and his education were devoted to education. He attended Martha Berry College, Georgia Southwestern College and University of Georgia for his undergraduate degree and University of Georgia for his Masters in Education as well as his law degree. He was a principal both of elementary and secondary schools in Berrien County Georgia. At the age of 38, he changed careers and built a successful educational marketing business, Educational Marketing Services, selling educational products to school systems.

He was a loving and devoted husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather and is seceded in death by Timothy Max Poucher, grandson. He is survived by three daughters and two sons in law; Sandra Dianne and Robert Alan Fischer of Minneapolis, Minnesota, Suzanne Johnson of Fort Myers, Florida, and Kathryn Elaine and Carl Emil Poucher of Carrollton. Survivors also include grandchildren and their spouses; Shawn William Fischer, Ashley Ayn and James Edward Remik, Kevin Hamilton Butts and Deanna Lynn Ford, Jessica Robin and Daniel Eric Blanks, Mark Christian and Melissa Caspary- Poucher, John Gabriel and Kendall Poucher, Justin Cauldwell Poucher. great grandchildren, William Jeremy and Caleb James Remik, Noah Lane Butts, Isaiah Samuel, Judah Isaac, Chava Chloe, Aaron Levi, Ari Mordechai, and Tovia Yosef Blanks, Ethan Ry and Samantha Eve Caspary-Poucher.

Memorial Services will be Monday, October 1, 2012 at the Carrollton First United Methodist Church with Rev. Gerry Davis and Dr. Dean Milford officiating.

The family will be receiving friends and family beginning at 10AM followed by Memorial Services at 11AM.

The family requests contributions to Carrollton First United Methodist, 206 Newnan Street, Carrollton, GA 30117, in lieu of flowers and messages of condolence may be sent to the family at http://www.almonfuneralhome.com.

Funeral arrangements are being made by Almon Funeral Home of Carrollton.

Grave of Max Maurice Johnson, Carroll Memory Gardens, Carrollton, GA.  Image source: Don Sharp.

Grave of Max Maurice Johnson, Carroll Memory Gardens, Carrollton, GA. Image source: Don Sharp.

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