Levi J. Knight and the first Wiregrass Pioneers to settle on Beaverdam Creek in the area of present day Ray City, GA arrived here about 185 years ago, in the 1820s. At first these settlers had no mail service at all, but within a year or two a post office was established at Daniel “Big Thumb” McCranie’s place on the Coffee Road. That was a 50 mile round trip for the settlers at Beaverdam Creek to fetch their mail. Other post offices sprang up to serve the pioneers of Old Berrien County, but no post office was established closer than 10 or 12 miles to Ray City until after the Civil War.
KNIGHT’S MILL POST OFFICE
After the end of the Civil War, the grist mill that General Levi J. Knight and his son-in-law Thomas M. Ray had established on Beaverdam Creek became the site of the first post station serving the present day area of Ray City, GA. This mill was originally known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill” and in 1867 a post office established here was simply referred to as “Knight’s Mill.” In 1870 the United States Postal Service Guide indicated that the postmaster of Knight’s Mill received an annual salary of $12. The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Green Bullard was appointed postmaster of Knight’s Mill (later known as Rays Mill) on August 3, 1868. Bullard held the position until June 29, 1871 when the Knight’s Mill post office was discontinued.
RAY’S MILL POST STATION
In 1870, after the death of General Knight, Thomas M. Ray bought out complete ownership of the mill from his father-in-law’s estate. Thereafter the mill and the surrounding community became known as Ray’s Mill. Apparently from 1871 and 1875 there was no post office in operation at Ray’s Mill, and residents were again compelled to take their mail at Nashville or Milltown. In 1876 a local post office resumed operation and according to the Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Henry Harrison Knight was appointed on June 6, 1876. The United States Official Postal Guide of July, 1879 lists the post office at “Ray’s Mills,” Berrien County, Georgia, but the postmaster’s name is not given. The Georgia State Gazetteer, Business and Planter’s Directory for 1881-82 also lists the the Ray’s Mill post office. In the 1885 Official Register of the United States, H.H. Knight was again listed as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill, Berrien County, Georgia. His compensation for this service was $36.25. Post Office Dept records appear to indicate that H.H. Knight was reappointed as Postmaster on May 22, 1886. His wife, Mary Susan Ray Knight, was officially appointed Postmaster on November 1, 1892. Joseph O. Sirmans was appointed on October 2, 1899 and served for about a year. On September 1, 1900 the appointment was given to William C. Johnson (Johnson married H.H. Knight’s daughter in 1907). The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters documents that David J. Rigell was appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on March 8, 1901. Ulysses A. Knight took over on August 12, 1902 and was later confirmed as postmaster. Josiah S. Rigell took the position on April 28, 1903. Post office records seem to indicate that the post office at Ray’s Mill was discontinued effective March 31, 1904 and for a while the mail was sent to Milltown (now Lakeland).
Some local histories say David Rigell, a merchant of Berrien County, was the first postmaster at Ray’s Mill. The primary sources, timing and other factors indicate that this was not the case (see David Jackson Rigell ~ First Postmaster of Ray’s Mill? Maybe Not!), but that Rigell served as postmaster in the 1901. It is speculated that the death of General Knight left the position vacant until Henry H. Knight, son-in-law of Thomas M. Ray and nephew of General Knight took an interest in civil service.
In 1909, Eugene Ray reported that “Charles H. Anderson and Dr. Guy Selman, young men, are putting up a drug store. Mr. Anderson is postmaster and Dr. Selman practices his profession here,” in Ray City, GA. The Post Office Department Record of Appointment of Postmasters shows that Charles Anderson was officially appointed Postmaster of Rays Mill on February 6, 1909, and the Official Register of the United States shows in 1909, Chas Anderson was earning, $82 a month or $984 a year as Postmaster of Ray’s Mill. That sum might have been comparable to an annual salary of about $35,000 a year in 2007 dollars.
On April 1, 1920, James “Joel” F. Fountain became the Acting Postmaster. His appointment as Postmaster was confirmed in the U.S. Senate on June 5th of that year. The following year the Ray City Post Office made the state news when it was dynamited by “Yeggmen“.
The census of 1930 shows James F. Fountain continued as the Ray City postmaster. James Arthur Grissett and Lacy Albert McDonald were employed as rural mail carriers at Ray City.
By 1934, Mamie E. Fountain, wife of J. F. Fountain, took over as Postmaster at Ray City.
In 1939, the Nashville Herald announced a vacancy in the postmaster position at Ray City:
The Nashville Herald,
February 2, 1939 Pg 1
Postmaster’s Exam Called for Ray City
An open competitive examination will be held shortly to fill the position of postmaster of Ray City, according to an announcement from the Civil Service Commission, Washington, D.C.
Applications for the examination will close on February 10th. All who desire to take the examination for this place must file their application by that date.
The place and date of examination will be announced after the date for making applications is closed.
Complete information may be obtained by applying at the post office in Ray City.
Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker
The U. S. Postal service and census records provide the following on subsequent Postal employees at Ray City.
|James Arthur Grissett||Mail Carrier||prior to 4/04/1940|
|Chloe Ann Johnson||Asst Postmaster||prior to 4/04/1940|
|Garth L. Webb||Postmaster||prior to 4/04/1940|
|William A. Garner||Acting Postmaster||04/02/1955|
|William A. Garner||Postmaster||08/06/1957|
|Mrs. Florence V. Garner||Officer-In-Charge||05/08/1970|
|Timothy R. McLeod||Postmaster||11/27/1971|
|Jeane U. Camp||Officer-In-Charge||06/04/1987|
|Billy R. Cromer||Officer-In-Charge||07/30/1987|
|Muriel S. Privett||Officer-In-Charge||11/05/1987|
|Jeane U. Camp||Postmaster||01/30/1988|
|Nancy Deloras Courson||Officer-In-Charge||01/08/2003|
|Nancy D. Courson||Postmaster||05/17/2003|
- Attack of the Yeggmen
- Big Thumb McCranie was First Postmaster of Lowndes
- James F. Fountain ~ Postmaster & Pecan Planter
- Counterfeit Coins in Berrien County
- The Johnsons Were at Home in Ray City, GA
- James Arthur Grissett, Sr.
- The Grand Jury of 1868, Berrien County, Georgia
- David Jackson Rigell ~ First Postmaster of Ray’s Mill? Maybe Not!
- David Jackson Rigell ~ Merchant of Ray’s Mill, GA
- Henry Harrison Knight Among Earliest Teachers in Berrien County
- Ray’s Mill has Arrived
- Bird’s Mill Post Office
- 1915 – Rays Mill Becomes Ray City