Captain J. D. Evans was Skulking and Hiding Out

Desertion of J. D. Evans

Johnathan D. Evans before the Civil War was residing at Nashville, GA. In the Census of 1860  he was enumerated there as a mechanic and slave owner. At the outbreak of the war, he became Captain of one of the four companies of Confederate soldiers that went forth from Berrien County, GA.

J. D. Evans’ name appears on a March 1862 list of Berrien County men subject to do military duty. He enlisted with other men of Berrien County and was mustered into Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment Volunteer Infantry March 4, 1862. On May 6, 1862, J. D. Evans was elected Captain of Company E. Among other Berrien County men serving in Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment were Jehu and James Patten, George Washington Knight , Matthew Hodge Albritton, James Lee, Jesse Lee, John LeeGeorge Washington KnightJames Madison BaskinWilliam Varnell NixStephen Willis AveraWilliam J. Lamb, Thomas L. Lamb, Samuel Guthrie,  William Henry Outlaw, John Webb, Jordan Webb and Benjamin Sirmans, Jeremiah MayRufus Ray, and Samuel SandersDr. Hamilton M. Talley was Evans’ second in command.

But after a year of service, J. D. Evans deserted his post.

According to the New Georgia Encylopedia,

Desertion plagued Georgia regiments during the Civil War (1861-65) and, in addition to other factors, debilitated the Confederate war effort. Deserters were not merely cowards or ne’er-do-wells; some were seasoned veterans from battle-hardened regiments….   Whereas the sixty-three plantation-belt counties in the lowlands provided more than 50 percent of the volunteer infantry companies, desertion rates among soldiers hailing from this region were among the lowest in the state…This phenomenon may be partially accounted for by the fact that Confederate social and military authority remained reasonably intact in the lowlands for most of the war, making it perilous for would-be deserters from the area to flee home…The economic structure of the plantation belt and the widespread use of slave labor also allowed lowland Georgians to remain in the Confederate army without worries for the safety of their homes and families. [Furthermore] wealthy plantation owners in the lowlands were able to apply for exemptions. While 3,368 Georgians deserted to Union lines throughout the war, approximately 11,000 affluent Georgia men received exemptions and were able to remain in their communities and maintain social and economic stability. 

Berrien County men, like J. D. Evans, did desert, though. Men deserted from  Company E (Berrien County), 54th GA Regiment, from the Berrien Minute Men (companies G & K, 29th GA regiment),  and from the Berrien Light Infantry (Company I, 50th GA Regiment).

Companies routinely sent patrols back to their home counties to round up deserters and stragglers who had overstayed their leaves.  Sergeant William W. Williams was sent in 1864 to hunt skulkers in Lowndes and Berrien County, GA. N. M. McNabb, a soldier of Company D, 12th Georgia Regiment, was pressed into service hunting fugitive deserters in Berrien County in September 1864.

It was not unusual for Confederate soldiers to go absent without having been granted leave.  John W. Hagan, sergeant of the Berrien Minute Men, wrote about having to “run the blockade”  – to slip past sentries and sneak out of camp for a few hours when he didn’t have a pass.  Isaac Gordon Bradwell, a soldier of the 31st Georgia Regiment, wrote from Camp Wilson about his regiment being called to formation in the middle of the night to catch out those men who were absent without leave.  The men returned before dawn, but  “There was quite a delegation from each company to march up to headquarters that morning to receive, as they thought, a very severe penalty for their misconduct. Our good old colonel stood up before his tent and lectured the men, while others stood armed grinning and laughing at their plight; but to the surprise and joy of the guilty, he dismissed them all without punishment after they had promised him never to run away from camp again.”

The men sometimes gave themselves unofficial leave for more than just a night on the town – French leave, they called it.

Desertion was common from the beginning of the war, but, until early in 1862, it was not always defined as such. When the war unexpectedly lasted past the first summer and fall, … recruits began taking what many called “French leave” by absenting themselves for a few days or longer in order to visit friends and family (the term comes from an eighteenth-century French custom of leaving a reception without saying a formal good bye to the host or hostess). Officers pursued these men with varying degrees of diligence, but because most returned in time for the spring campaigns, few were formally charged with and punished for desertion. – Encyclopedia Virginia

In July 1862 a number of men from the 29th Georgia Regiment were detached to Camp Anderson, near Savannah, for the formation of a new sharpshooter battalion. Desertion became a problem; by the end of the year 29 men would desert from Camp Anderson.  At least one deserter killed himself rather than be captured and returned to Camp Anderson. Another, after firing a shot at Major Anderson, was court-martialed and executed by firing squad. Three more deserters were sentenced to death but were released and returned to duty under a general amnesty and pardon issued by Jefferson Davis.

In October 1862 Elbert J. “Yaller” Chapman took  “French leave” when the Berrien Minute Men were returning by train from a deployment in Florida:

“Yaller” stepped off the train at the station on the Savannah, Florida, and Western  [Atlantic & Gulf] railroad nearest his home — probably Naylor, and went to see his family. He was reported “absent without leave,” and when he returned to his command at Savannah, he was placed in the guard tent and charges were preferred against him. It was from the guard tent that he deserted and went home the second time. After staying home a short while he joined a cavalry command and went west.  It is said that he was in several engagements and fought bravely.  

Albert Douglas left the Berrien Minute Men “absent without leave” in December 1862 and was marked “deserted.”  Actually Douglas enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry and went to Virginia, where his unit was engaged in the Battle of Brawners Farm. He subsequently served in a number of units before deserting and surrendering to the U. S. Army.  He was inducted into the U. S. Navy, but deserted that position in March 1865.

Deserter Benjamin S. Garrett was later shot for being a spy.

By the spring of 1863 when the 29th Georgia Regiment was stationed at Camp Young near Savannah, GA, twenty men were reported as deserters. Four of the deserters were from Company K, the Berrien Minute Men, including  Albert Douglas, Benjamin S. Garrett, J. P. Ponder and Elbert J. Chapman. Colonel William J. Young offered a reward of $30 for each Confederate deserter apprehended, $600 for the bunch.  From the weeks and months the reward was advertised, one can judge these were not men who just sneaked off to Savannah,  but were long gone.

In April, 1863 deserters from the Confederate works at Causton’s Bluff  and Thunderbolt batteries reported that “the daily rations of troops consist only of four ounces bacon and seven of cornmeal.”

When the 29th Georgia Regiment and the Berrien Minute Men, Company K were sent to Mississippi in May of 1863 they encountered deserter Elbert J. Chapman serving in another regiment. The case became one of the most notorious of the war.  [Chapman’s] desertion  consisted in his leaving [the Berrien Minute Men,] Wilson’s Infantry Regiment, then stationed on the coast of Georgia, and joining a Cavalry Regiment at the front—a “desertion” of a soldier from inactive service in the rear to fighting at the front.  Although Chapman was fighting with another company in Mississippi, he was charged with desertion from the 29th Georgia Regiment and court-martialed.  Despite appeals by his commanding officers Chapman was executed by firing squad. After the war, his indigent wife was denied a Confederate pension.

While Berrien Minute Men Company G was detached at the Savannah River Batteries, the papers of commanding officer Col. Edward C. Anderson indicate desertions from the Savannah defenses were a common occurrence.

It was in July 1863 that Captain J. D. Evans deserted from Company E, 54th Georgia Infantry Regiment.  Given that the 54th Georgia Infantry was engaged in repelling Federal assaults on the defenses of Charleston, his punishment was remarkably light.

Just a few days after J. D. Evans went absent without leave,  Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America, issued a general pardon to deserters.

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis

His proclamation, issued on August 1, 1863, admitted Confederate defeats, the horrific death toll, and the pending invasion of Georgia by overwhelming U.S. forces. Davis claimed the goal of the U.S. government is a slave revolt and the genocide or enslavement of Southern whites. He assuaged the guilt of deserters and asserted that Confederate victory could still be pulled from defeat, if all the Confederate deserters would but return to their camps. Finally, Davis “conjures” the women of Georgia not to shelter deserters from disgrace.

Jefferson Davis’ proclamation of pardon and amnesty for Confederate deserters was published in newspapers all over the South.

TO THE SOLDIERS OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES.
After more than two years of a warfare scarcely equaled in the number, magnitude and fearful carnage of its battles; a warfare in which your courage and fortitude have illustrated your country and attracted not only gratitude at home but admiration abroad, your enemies continue a struggle in which our final triumph must be inevitable. Unduly elated with their recent successes they imagine that temporary reverses can quell your spirit or shake your determination, and they are now gathering heavy masses for a general invasion, in the vain hope that by a desperate effort success may at length be reached.
You know too well, my countrymen, what they mean by success. Their malignant rage aims at nothing less than the extermination of yourselves, your wives and children. They seek to destroy what they cannot plunder. They propose as the spoils of victory that your homes shall be partitioned among the wretches whose atrocious cruelties have stamped infamy on their Government. The design to incite servile insurrection and light the fires of incendiarism whenever they can reach your homes, and they debauch the inferior race hitherto docile and contented, by promising indulgence of the vilest passions, as the price of treachery. Conscious of their inability to prevail by legitimate warfare, not daring to make peace lest they should be hurled from their seats of power, the men who now rule in Washington refuse even to confer on the subject of putting an end to outrages which disgrace our age, or to listen to a suggestion for conducting the war according to the usages of civilization. Fellow citizens, no alternative is left you but victory, or subjugation, slavery and the utter ruin of yourselves, your families and your country. The victory is within your reach. You need but stretch forth your hands to grasp it. For this and all that is necessary is that those who are called to the field by every motive that can move the human heart, should promptly repair to the post of duty, should stand by their comrades now in front of the foe, and thus so strengthen the armies of the Confederacy as to ensure success. The men now absent from their posts would, if present in the field, suffice to create numerical equality between our force and that of the invaders— and when, with any approach to such equality, have we failed to be victorious? I believe that but few of those absent are actuated by unwillingness to serve their country; but that many have found it difficult to resist the temptation of a visit to their homes and the loved ones from whom they have been so long separated; that others have left for temporary attention to their affairs with the intention of returning and then have shrunk from the consequences of their violation of duty; that others again have left their post from mere restlessness and desire of change, each quieting the upbraidings of his conscience, by persuading himself that his individual services could have no influence on the general result.
These and other causes (although far less disgraceful than the desire to avoid danger, or to escape from the sacrifices required by patriotism, are, nevertheless, grievous faults, and place the cause of our beloved country, and of everything we hold dear, in imminent peril. I repeat that the men who now owe duty to their country, who have been called out and have not yet reported for duty, or who have absented themselves from their posts, are sufficient in number to secure us victory in the struggle now pending.
I call on you, then, my countrymen, to hasten to your camps, in obedience to the dictates of honor and of duty, and summon, those who have absented themselves without leave, or who have remained absent beyond the period allowed by their furloughs, to repair without delay to their respective commands, and I do hereby declare that I grant a general pardon and amnesty to all officers and men within the Confederacy, now absent without leave, who shall, with the least possible delay, return to their proper posts of duty, but no excuse will be received for any deserter beyond twenty days after the first publication of this proclamation in the State in which the absentee may be at the date of the publication. This amnesty and pardon shall extend to all who have been accused, or who have been convicted and are undergoing sentence for absence without leave or desertion, excepting only those who have been twice convicted of desertion.
Finally, I conjure my countrywomen —the wives, mothers, sisters and daughters of the Confederacy— to use their all-powerful influence in aid of this call, to add one crowning sacrifice to those which their patriotism has so freely and constantly offered on their country’s alter, and to take care that none who owe service in the field shall be sheltered at home from the disgrace of having deserted their duty to their families, to their country, and to their God.
Given under my hand, and the Seal of the Confederate States, at Richmond, this 1st day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three.

JEFFERSON DAVIS.
By the President:
J. P. Benjamin, Sec’ry of State.

Johnathan D. Evans did not return to his post, however.  On Oct 23, 1863, his Colonel wrote to General Samuel Cooper that Evans was a skulker and hiding from duty. (Cooper was the highest ranking officer of the Confederate States Army, outranking Robert E. Lee and all other officers of the Confederacy.)

Hed. Qrs. 54th Ga. Infantry
James Island, S.C.
Oct. 20th, 1863

Gen’l S. Cooper
Adj’t Insp’r Gen’l
Richmond,

Gen’l
I have the honor to request that you will drop in disgrace from the Army rolls, the name of Captain J. D. Evans of Company “E” 54th Ga. Infantry.
This officer has been absent from his command for a period of sixty days without leave. On the 27th day of July last, the Regiment being ordered to Morris Island, Capt Evans reported sick, and at his own request was sent, by the Surgeon, to the hospital in Charleston. He was subsequently transferred to Columbus, S.C., and thence to Augusta, Ga., since which time he has never reported.
I regret to state that all the circumstances surrounding this case indicate, but too clearly, that he never intends to rejoin his command – at least while it is in active service; (nor from all the reports which reach me) can I be induced to believe that he is sick – on the contrary, I am forced unwillingly to think that he is skulking and hiding from duty. If a more charitable construction could be placed upon his conduct, I should be the last one to suggest so harsh a proceeding in his case.
Where he is – what he is doing – when he intends to return – and where to reach him with an order are questions which no one can answer.
Verbal reports reach me that he is at home with his family – that he is engaged in a Government workshop – but all parties report him well. His influence with his command is lost. For the good of the service, and as a proper example to deter others from adopting a similar course, I earnestly recommend that his name be dropped from the Army Rolls.

I have the honor to be, Gen’l,
Very Respectfully,
Yr Ob’t Sv’t
Charlton H. Way

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Col. Charlton H. Way letter of October 10, 1863 requesting Capt. J. D. Evans be dropped in disgrace from Army rolls.

Evans never did return to his unit. He was dropped from the rolls of Confederate officers for desertion.

The most significant wave of desertion among Georgia soldiers began in late 1863 following the Battle of Chickamauga,…the biggest battle ever fought in Georgia, which took place on September 18-20, 1863.  With 34,000 casualties, Chickamauga is generally accepted as the second bloodiest engagement of the war; only the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania, with 51,000 casualties, was deadlier.

Lt. H. M. Talley assumed command of Company E, 54th GA Regiment.  By the spring of 1864, Company E and the rest of the 54th Georgia Regiment were back at Savannah, GA serving on river defenses under the command of Edward C. Anderson. Anderson’s command also included the Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Regiment. Col. E. C. Anderson’s frustrations with Confederate desertion included the embarrassment of having his personal boat stolen by three deserters from the Confederate tugboat CSS Resolute on the night of April 15, 1864.

By the summer of 1864, the Confederate States Army was again in pursuit of skulkers.  Colonel Elijah C. Morgan of the  Georgia Militia, wrote from Valdosta, GA to his superior officer requesting a guard to conduct skulkers back to their units. Col. E. C. Morgan had served as Captain of the Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th GA regiment  from the formation of the company in 1862  until April 14, 1863 when he resigned because of tuberculosis; before the war he had been a Berrien County, GA attorney.

Colonel Elijah C. Morgan requests a guard to conduct skulkers from Valdosta, GA back to their Confederate units, August 16, 1864.

Colonel Elijah C. Morgan requests a guard to conduct skulkers from Valdosta, GA back to their Confederate units, August 16, 1864.

Valdosta, Ga   Aug 16th 1864

General,

I again urge the necessity of sending Sergt Wm W Williams back to use as a guard in sending forward skulkers who will not do to trust without a guard.

E. C. Morgan
Col. & ADG
6th Dist GM

According to historian Ella Lonn, of the approximately 103,400 enlisted men who deserted the Confederacy by war’s end, 6,797 were from Georgia.

After the war, J. D. Evans became a Baptist preacher. In 1874 he came to Ray’s Mill, GA (now Ray City) where he was instrumental in organizing a missionary Baptist Church.

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Reverend Carl Winn Minor

Reverend Carl Winn Minor (1868-1940)

Carl Winn Minor was pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937.  Born during Reconstruction, C. W. Minor was a son of Francis Minor and Mary Jane Watson and a grandson of Jim Minor, of Virginia.

Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937. Rev. Minor had formerly served as pastor of Valdosta Baptist Church.

Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1936 and 1937. Rev. Minor had formerly served as pastor of Valdosta Baptist Church.

According to Baptist Biography, Vol II, 1917:

In the early part of the last century, Mr. Jim Minor moved from Virginia to Georgia and settled on a farm in the southern part of Hancock county. Among his children was Francis [Frank] Minor, who was made an orphan by the death of his father when he was only six years old. In the early years of Francis the responsibilities of the family fell upon his shoulders. This and the consequent hardships developed the manhood that was in him and he became a successful farmer. At the age of thirty he married Miss Mary Jane Watson, a native of Greene county, Georgia. They lived and labored on a farm in Hancock county, where they reared a large family, Carl Winn Minor, the subject of this sketch being the eleventh of fifteen children.

Mr. Minor was born July 29, 1868, and spent his youth on his father’s plantation, where he was schooled in the art of tilling the soil. By the use of a club axe, the plow and the hoe, he developed a strong body which has served him well in his educational pursuits and in his ministerial career. In the community school, with its short terms, he laid the foundation for his education. Being a diligent student and apt to learn he developed an insatiable desire for knowledge. In early manhood he entered the [Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College] M. G. M. & A. College, at Milledgeville, Georgia, in which he prepared himself for the Freshman class of Mercer University, Macon, Georgia.

Carl Winn Minor attended Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College at Milledgeville, GA. The college was housed in the former state capitol building, constructed in 1803. The college is now known as Georgia Military College.

Carl Winn Minor attended Middle Georgia Military & Agricultural College at Milledgeville, GA. The college was housed in the former state capitol building, constructed in 1803. The college is now known as Georgia Military College.

On June 25, 1885, a month and three days before his seventeenth birthday. Mr. Minor was happily converted and united with the Milledgeville Baptist church and was baptized by Rev. A. J. Beck [Reverend Andrew Jefferson Beck]. From the beginning of his Christian life Mr. Minor took an active interest in the work of his church. It was soon recognized that he was a convert of promise and that he was endowed with the gifts of public speech and of leadership. Accordingly, he was licensed to exercise his gifts in preaching the gospel, and on December 18, 1888, while a student at Mercer University, he was ordained to the full work of the gospel ministry by Friendship church, Washington county, Georgia. The presbytery was composed of Revs. T. J. Holmes [Thomas Joseph Holmes], W. J. Durham and D. W. Dewell [William D. Dewell].

Carl Winn Minor attended Mercer University

Carl Winn Minor attended Mercer University

Carl W. Winn was pastor at Union Baptist Church,

Carl W. Winn was pastor at Union Baptist Church, Warthen, Washington County, GA from 1889 to 1893, while attending Mercer University.

Mr. Minor was pastor of one or more churches during his entire course at Mercer University. The churches served while at Mercer were Liberty, Wilkinson county, 1888-1893, and Union, Washington county, 1889-1893. The A. B. course and the duties of preparing sermons and of pastoral work in his churches were a heavy tax on his mind and body, but being accustomed to hard work from his youth up, and possessing an unusual degree of determination, he succeeded in the work of his churches and made a good record in his college classes, graduating with the A. B. degree in 1893. The income from the churches he served was not adequate to meet his college expenses, and it was necessary for him to devote one year to teaching. That year was spent in the grammar school of South Macon.

Old Baptist Church Building , Dublin, GA. Carl Winn Minor taught at this church while attending Mercer University in the 1890s.

Old Baptist Church Building, Dublin, GA. Carl Winn Minor taught at this church while attending Mercer University in the 1890s.

During Mr. Minor’s last year at Mercer he was pastor of the Dublin Baptist church. This church offered exceptional opportunities for a young college graduate, but he was not satisfied with his educational attainments. Accordingly, he resigned the pastorate of the Dublin church in the Fall of 1893 and entered the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, at Louisville, Kentucky, from which he graduated with the Th. G. degree in 1895. While at the Seminary he was pastor of Tate’s Creek and Elko churches, in Kentucky.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, KY

After graduation from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Mr. Minor became pastor of the Valdosta Baptist church, Georgia,

 Carl Winn Minor preached from 1895 to 1900 in this Valdosta, GA church building, originally constructed in 1867 by the missionary baptist congregation of Valdosta. The Missionary Baptists sold the building to the Valdosta Primitive Baptist congregation in 1900. It was acquired by the Pentacostal Church 1994. It is Valdosta's oldest existing religious structure.

Carl Winn Minor preached from 1895 to 1900 in this Valdosta, GA church building, originally constructed in 1867 by the missionary baptist congregation of Valdosta. The Missionary Baptists sold the building to the Valdosta Primitive Baptist congregation in 1900. It was acquired by the Pentacostal Church 1994. It is Valdosta’s oldest existing religious structure.

[Reverend Minor served Valdosta Baptist Church] from 1895 to 1902. During this period the city of Valdosta had a very rapid but substantial growth. The church of which Mr. Minor was pastor kept pace with the material development of the community. Through his leadership it erected a magnificent new house of worship, which cost $30,000.

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In 1896, a lot on Toombs Street between West Central Avenue and Valley Street was purchased and construction on a new church building began. After four years, on November 18, 1900, the church was dedicated debt free, to the glory of God.

Valdosta Baptist Church

Valdosta Baptist Church

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During [Reverend Minor’s] pastorate at Valdosta he spent a year in travel and study abroad.

1899 Passport application of Carl Winn Minor.

1899 Passport application of Carl Winn Minor.

Three months of the time were spent in the Holy Land. It was his privilege to read the thrilling instances recorded in the Scriptures on the ground where they took place. These opportunities gave him a clearer insight into the realities of the divine revelation. It has had a telling effect on his preaching through all the years. While abroad he spent much time in Germany, France, England and Scotland.

 

Mr. Minor has held only five pastorates since his graduation from the Seminary in 1895. The unanimous call of the church at Fitzgerald and the exceptional opportunities the field offered, led Mr. Minor to resign his church at Valdosta, in 1902, and to accept the pastorate of the church at Fitzgerald, where he remained through 1905. The church at Moultrie extended him a call in the latter part of 1905. It was an inviting field and the call was accepted and he gave the church three years of faithful and efficient service, resigning its pastorate to accept a call to the church at Bainbridge, where he did a great work during the years 1909 to 1914. Up until 1914 all the pastoral work of Mr. Minor had been in the territory south of Macon. The church at Madison, Georgia, coveted his gifts and secured his services in 1914 and thereafter until 1917. During his pastorate at Madison a commodious Sunday school room was erected at a cost of $25,000.

It may be said that few pastors anywhere have been more successful and more universally popular than Mr. Minor. Good congregations attended the regular services of all the churches he has served, and the churches under his leadership have enjoyed steady and substantial growth in numbers and in Christian liberality. His work as a pastor has been constructive, and every field in which he has labored has been made more desirable for his successor by reason of the character of work he did while in it.

The interest of Mr. Minor has not been limited to the churches he has served nor to the communities in which they were located. The district association of which his churches were members had his active support, and he ever maintained an active interest in the State and Southern Baptist Conventions. Educational institutions have found in him a staunch friend, and he has rendered much valuable service in their interests. Mr. Minor is distinctively a denominational man, and his denomination has recognized his ability as a leader in the interest of its enterprises. Among other positions held, he is trustee of the Georgia Baptist Orphans’ Home, Mercer University, and is president of the Mission Board of the Georgia Baptist Convention, a position which he has held during the past three years. In recognition of his ability as a minister of the gospel and as a theologian, the trustees of Mercer University conferred upon him the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1910.

Dr. Minor is a man of pleasing personal appearance. Friends are easily made, and seemingly quite as easily held. As a preacher he is clear in his thinking, sound in his theology and forceful in his delivery. In his public addresses, he warms up to his subject quickly and creates interest and enthusiasm in his hearers. As a citizen he is every whit a Christian gentleman. Honesty and integrity with him are priceless virtues. In all the communities where he has lived and labored, he has maintained a high standing as a Christian citizen and as a man of good business judgment.

It was a surprise to many of his friends that Dr. Minor could have been induced to leave the pastorate to become associate president of Cox College, where he began his labors in the Fall of 1917.

Cox Female College, Atlanta, GA. Carl Winn Minor was president of the college from 1917 to 1926..

Cox Female College, Atlanta, GA. Carl Winn Minor was president of the college from 1917 to 1926.

In the college, as in the pastorate, he is a tireless and tactful worker. Wherever he has gone he has made friends for the institution over which he presides. Though the college has no organic connection with the Baptist denomination, it is recognized as a Baptist institution. Dr. Minor’s friendship and support of the institutions of the Georgia Baptist Convention have been as hearty since his connection with Cox College as they were before.

Dr. Minor greatly increased his personal happiness and usefulness in his marriage to Mrs. Bessie Fair Sims, on September 17, 1912. In his work as pastor and as president of Cox College, she is a worthy helpmeet. With his home established and with his breadth of learning and with his varied experiences as pastor, educator and denominational worker, he is now at his best. The hard work on the farm in his youth, his struggles in securing an education, the stress and strain of growing pastorates and the exactions of a college president have in no way impaired his physical strength. At no time in his busy life has he been more capable of doing well a diversity of things than now. The brotherhood of his denomination and the people of the communities in which he has lived and labored trust him implicitly and delight to honor him. The days of his greatest usefulness have just begun, and the rewards which he has received and those which await him are well worth all the struggles of his youth and the sacrifices and labors of his manhood.

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Subsequent to his tenure at Cox College, Carl Winn Minor served as pastor of a number of Georgia baptist churches. In 1930, he was living and preaching in Augusta, GA.  By 1936, he came to Ray City, GA where he served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church for two years.  At the conclusion of his pastorate in Ray City, Carl Winn Minor was 66 years of age. On June 10,1940 he died of a heart attack in Atlanta, GA.  He was buried at Memory Hill Cemetery, Milledgeville GA. Bessie Minor died in 1961 and was buried at her husband’s side.

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A Brief History of Beaver Dam Baptist Church

In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the baptist’s message.  Evans and Ray were both Confederate veterans and former slave owners.

During the Civil War, Evans had been Captain of the Berrien Light Infantry until he deserted in the summer of 1863.  After the war Evans took up the gospel as a layman. In 1871 he organized a Sunday School at a log house near Morven, GA and was a founding member of Philadelphia Church there.  Shortly afterwards he was ordained by Philadelphia Church, and took up missionary work helping to found a number of Wiregrass baptist churches. In 1874 this work brought him to Ray’s Mill.

At first the missionary baptist church meetings were held in the old log school house and  big revivals that were held at Ray’s Mill in May and July, 1874. Thomas M. Ray must have attended the events for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill (see Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.)  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the church.  Thomas M. Ray and David J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and David J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

The original wooden church building at Beaver Dam was constructed by William A. Bridges and James M. Baskin (see Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church).  Construction began in  January of 1875.  Baskin and Bridges hand hewed the timbers to frame the church.   Sawn lumber was purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The building was finished with windows and siding. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J. M. Baskin made the doors himself.

Pastors of Ray City Baptist Church

John D. Evans 1874-1875
William E. Morris 1875-1876
George M. Troupe Wilson 1876-1876
John D. Evans 1876-1878
T. W. Powell 1878-1880
William Adolphus Pardee 1884-1887
John D. Evans 1887-1889
William Henry Dent 1890-1898
Malcolm Augustus Grace 1898-1900
J. L. Milner 1900-1901
H. C. Strong 1901-1903
W. J. Odom 1903-1903
W. J. Ballew 1903-1903
A. J. Gross 1905-1906
E. L. Todd 1906-1913
Perry Thomas Knight 1913-1917
M. L. Lawson 1917-1917
N. C. Wilkes 1917-1918
Clayton Samuel Yawn 1918-1921
W. Harvey Wages 1921-1922
J. C. Moore 1924—1925
A. W. Smith 1925-1925
Walter Branch 1925-1935
Carl W. Minor 1936-1937
C. . Schwall 1937-1940
John W. Harrell 1941-1945
P. T. Peavy 1945-1945
John W. Harrell 1946-1953
Claude Tuten 1954-1958
C. C. Lynch 1959-1962
J. Ray Allen 1962-1963
Bob M. Brown 1964-1967
Allen Bates 1967-1972
Wiley Vickers 1973-1977
Dr. William Rathburn 1978-1990
Lee Graham 1990-2006
John E. Patten 2006 –

 

Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church

Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat

Wilmont Pierce and the Valdosta Baptist Association

Perry Thomas Knight Attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy

Mixon Graves at New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery

Owen Clinton Pope, Reconstruction Teaching and Preaching

Spanish-American War Vet Rests at Ray City, GA

Mary & Saunto Sollami Buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery

Reverend Bob Brown, Master of Theology

Reverend Bob Merrill Brown (1936-1984)

Reverend Bob M. Brown and his wife Sherra Mashburn Brown lived in Ray City, GA in the 1960s.  Rev. Brown’s sister, Francine Brown McCall, was also a resident of the town.

Reverend Bob M. Brown, became pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1964.

Reverend Bob M. Brown, became pastor of Ray City Baptist Church in 1964.

 

Bob Brown attended Mercer University, Macon, GA, graduating with the Class of 1958. He later attended New Orleans Baptist Seminary (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) in New Orleans where he met his wife, Sherra Mashurn. Sherra Mashburn Brown was born on August 30, 1937 in New Orleans, LA. She was the daughter of Rev. James and Sherra Mashurn.

Bob Brown was an Army Chaplain, commissioned captain, and served in Korean and Viet Nam.

Captain Bob Merrill Brown, Army Chaplain. Image source: Betty Anne Greene Spear

Captain Bob Merrill Brown, Army Chaplain. Image source: Betty Anne Greene Spear

 

Houston Home Journal
September 14, 1967

FT. HAMILTON, N. Y.-Army Reserve Captain Bob M. Brown, whose mother, Mrs. Lucille D. Brown, lives at 719 Charles Dr., Perry, completed a military chaplain orientation course Sept. 1 at the Army Chaplain School, Ft. Hamilton, N. Y. He received nine weeks of training in psychology and coun seling, methods of instruction and principles of character guidance. Instruction was also given in standard military areas such as administration, customs of serv ice, drill and techniques of study. Capt. Brown received his B.A. degree in 1958 from Mercer Uni versity, and his B. D. degree in 1962 from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife, Sherra, lives in Ray City, Ga. 

†††

 

 

Houston Home Journal
May 26, 1966

Rev. Bob Brown Receives Degree at Jacksonville

      The Rev. Bob M. Brown, son of Mrs. Lucille D. Brown of Perry, received the Master of Theology degree from the Luther Rice Baptist Theological Seminary in Jacksonville on May 15.
      The Reverend Mr. Brown, a graduate and former teacher of Perry High School, was ordained to the ministry by the First Baptist Church of Perry.
He also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Mercer University and a Bachelor of Divinity from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
       Since 1964 he has served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga.

†††

OBITUARY

Houston Home Journal
March 1, 1984

Deaths

Brown

Bob M. Brown, 47, died Friday, February 24, 1984. Services were held at 11 a m. Tuesday in the First Baptist Church in Perry. Burial was in Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery in Pinehurst. The Rev. Dr. Gene Bowman officiated. Mr. Brown, native of Vienna, had lived in Perry for several years before moving to Brooksville. He graduated from Mercer University in Macon and received a bachelor of divinity degree from Southern Baptist School in New Orleans and a master of theology degree from Luther Wright Seminary in Jacksonville, Fla. He taught at Southwest College in New Mexico and at Perry High School. He was formerly the pastor of Ray City Baptist Church and of Alexander Baptist Church. He served in Korea and Vietnam as a chaplain. Survivors include a daughter, Maranatha Brown of Brooksville, Fla.; four sons, Nathan Brown, Ethan Brown, Merrill Brown and David Brown, all of Brooksville; his mother, Lucille Brown of Perry; two sisters, Franceen McCall of Nashville, Ga., and Wylodme Blaylock of Sherman, Texas; three brothers, Carry Brown of Carnesville, Allan Brown of Texas and Kenneth Brown of Key Biscayne. Fla. Pallbearers were Nathan Brown, Ethan Brown, Merrill Brown,. David Brown, Larry Brown, Alan Brown, Kenneth Brown. Watson-Hunt Funeral Home of Ferry had charge of arrangements. 

Grave of Chaplain Bob Merrill Brown, Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery, Pinehurst, GA

Grave of Chaplain Bob Merrill Brown, Liberty Baptist Church Cemetery, Pinehurst, GA

Related Posts:

 

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat

Pearl Todd,  a Southern Baptist missionary from Hahira, GA,  served many years in China. While in the U.S. in 1939, she spoke to many audiences, including sharing her China experiences with students at the Ray City School. Pearl Todd was back in China when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred.

Pearl Todd, taken POW by the Japanese in China, returned to Lowndes County in 1942.

Pearl Todd, taken POW by the Japanese in China, returned to Lowndes County in 1942.

Atlanta Constitution
Friday September 18, 1942

More Mission Work in China Is Seen ‘Later’

Returned Missionary at Valdosta Tells of Jap ‘Take-Over.’

VALDOSTA, Ga., Sept. 17.  The constructive work of missionaries in conquered sections of China has not been lost and it will survive Japan’s “new order,” says a missionary who spent 20 years in China.  
    The missionary, Miss Pearl Todd, of Lowndes county, added confidently:
    “We will take up our work when the World War chaos has been ended.”
    Miss Todd returned recently on the Gripsholm, diplomatic exchange ship.  She told of one rather severe brush with Japanese authorities after they took over mission schools along with other property at Cheefoo, Shantung province, following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
    It involved “signing away” some properties of the Southern Baptist Conference.  With a twinkle of humor in her eye, she added:
    They already had the property, and I signed under duress.”
    She feared the loss of her typewriter, which had a mission report in it.  Miss Todd said Japanese soldiers who inspected it apparently could not read English and they left it.  She said there were some sentences on the sheet in the typewriter which were not complimentary to the Japs.

In the 1940s, the Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat operated in the Cat Creek Community about 8 miles southwest of Ray City, GA.

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat, located near the Cat Creek Community, operated from the 1940s to 1970s.

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat, located near the Cat Creek Community, operated from the 1940s to 1970s.

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat, located near the Cat Creek Community, operated from the 1940s to 1970s.

Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat, located near the Cat Creek Community, operated from the 1940s to 1970s.

"Nashville" and "Adel" dormitories at Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat.

“Nashville” and “Adel” dormitories at Pearl Todd Baptist Retreat.

Related Posts:

 

Reverend W. Harvey Wages

Reverend W. Harvey Wages

In the 1920s  Reverend W. Harvey Wages served as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church.  He was tall and slender with blue eyes, an enthusiastic and talented young minister. Reverend Wages would go on to become a leading pastor of Georgia churches, a member of the State Baptist Executive Committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention, and chaplain of the Georgia House of Representatives.

W. Harvey Wages was born June 30, 1889 in Cedartown, Polk County, GA. Some time before 1907, the Wages came from Polk to Thomas County. On December 22, 1907, W. Harvey Wages married Eugenia Wilson  in Thomas County. She was born December 24, 1891.

By 1915 W. Harvey Wages had taken up the Baptist ministry in Thomas County, and in 1920 he was serving as pastor of the Baptist church in Pavo, GA. About 1921, Reverend Wages moved his family to Ray City, GA where he took over as pastor of the Ray City Baptist Church. Within a few months, he was also serving as pastor of the Milltown Baptist Church.

In October, 1922, Reverend Wages gave up the Ray City Baptist Church.

Atlanta Constitution
Oct 28, 1922 pg 6
Pastor Moves
    Milltown, Ga., October 26.-(Special.) – Rev. W. Harvey Wages, who resigned the pastorate of the Ray City Baptist church recently moved his  family here this week that he may be able more carefully to look after the Milltown church. Mr. Wages has been living in Ray City about a year, during which time he was pastor of the Baptist church there.  He has been pastor of the Baptist church in Milltown for several months. 

By 1923, Reverend Wages was also serving as pastor of the Stockton Baptist Church.  He continued to be quite active in many revivals throughout this section, as well as weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies. In 1923, Rev. Wages conducted a revival at Good Hope Baptist Church – Perry Thomas Knight had served as pastor of this church in 1909.

Atlanta Constitution
August 24, 1923 Pg 7

HOLD MANY REVIVALS NEAR MILLTOWN, GA

Milltown, Ga., August 23. — (special.)–The revival meeting season is still on in this section.
Rev. W. Harvey Wages, pastor of the local Baptist church, is conducting a revival meeting at Good Hope church in the southern part of Lanier county, near Naylor. Rev. Roy Powell, of Nashville, Ga., is the pastor of this church. The meeting began last Saturday and will go on through this week.


1923-milltown-weddings

 

September 29, 1923

Many Weddings in Milltown.

Milltown, Ga., September 29. – Mrs. Lula Sutton has announced the marriage of her daughter, Berta Sutton to Charles Ennis Vizant, of Jacksonville, Fla., which occurred some days ago at the home of her cousin, O. M. Cameron, the ceremony being performed by Rev. E.D. McDaniel of Avondale Baptist church, Jacksonville. Mr. and Mrs. Vizant are at home to their friend at 1546 Roselle street, Jacksonville, Fla.

The many friends of Miss Mary Knight, who is well known in this state will be interested in the announcement by her father and mother, Rev. and Mrs. L. J. Knight, of Milltown, Ga., that Rev. Dr. A. R. Faralane, of Kansas City, Mo. and Miss Mary Knight, of Milltown, Ga., late of Independence, Mo. were married at Independence, Mo., Friday, September 7.

Mr. and Mrs. Wm. Pierce, of East Lanier, announce the marriage of their daughter, Miss Bell Pierce to George Hires, of near Waycross, the ceremony being performed by Rev. W. Harvey Wages, of Milltown. They are living near Waycross.

Miss Audrey Nicholson, the attractive young daughter of Mr. John Nicholson, of Ousley, Ga., was married Sunday afternoon to Will Williams, of near Morven. The ceremony was performed by Rev. A. L. Colson, near Valdosta, being witnessed bu a few intimate friends. The young couple will make their home near Morven, in Brooks county.

 

1928-harold wages

– In 1928, Reverend W. Harvey Wages suffered the loss of his 11-year-old son, Harold Wages. The boy was buried at the New Shiloh Baptist Church cemetery,

June 9, 1928

Harold Wages Buried Near Thomasville, GA.

Thomasville, Ga., June 9. – Funeral services were held yesterday at New Shiloh Baptist Church, six miles north of Thomasville on the highway to Moultrie, for Harold Wages, 11-year-old son of Rev. and Mrs. W. Harvey Wages, who died Wednesday in Lithonia, Ga. Interment was in the church cemetery at New Shiloh.

Rev. Mr. Wages and his family resided here for some years, removing four years ago to Lithonia, where Mr. Wages is pastor of one of the churches. They have a number of relatives and friends in Thomas county and young Harold, when his family lived here, was popular with a large connection and regarded as a boy of many attractive qualities and fine intelligence. His death was the result of blood poisoning contracted only a few days before he died.

 

1915-jul-23-harvey-wages

Reverend W. Harvey Wages was active with the Masons, July 23, 1915.

July 23, 1915

Thomas County Masons Meet.

Thomasville, Ga., July 22. – (Special.) The Thomas county Masonic convention which met yesterday with the Coolidge lodge was greatly enjoyed by the large number of Masons in attendance from all of the various lodges throughout the county. The speech of welcome was made by the Rev. Harvey Wages, and other short talks were made by visitors from the different lodges.

The chief feature of the convention was the address of Congressman Frank Park, whose subject, “Masonry, Exposed,” was treated in an able manner.

After a big picnic dinner there was work during the afternoon in the various degrees.

Congressman Frank Park owned a large plantation in Worth County, and had been responsible for organizing the great Possum Banquet, with ‘taters and persimmon beer for President Taft in Atlanta in 1909.

Reverend W. Harvey Wages later served as pastor of Lynn Haven Baptist Church, Panama City, FL.  He died September 27, 1971.  He was buried at the Wilson Family Cemetery, Thomas County, Georgia, USA.  Eugenia Wilson Wages died  June 5, 1977 and was buried next to her husband.

Perry Thomas Knight Attended Oaklawn Baptist Academy

Perry Thomas Knight, subject of previous posts, studied the ministry at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.  Perry T. Knight was the son of George Washington Knight and Rhoda (Futch) Knight, and the grandson of Aaron and Nancy (Sloan) Knight, and of John M. and Phoebe (Mathis) Futch.  Knight grew up in Ray City and became prominent in local and state government.

Perry Thomas Knight image detail. Original image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Perry Thomas Knight image detail. Original image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

While a ministerial student at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in 1909, Perry Thomas Knight was already a popular preacher.

While a ministerial student at Oaklawn Baptist Academy in 1909, Perry Thomas Knight was already a popular preacher.

Young Preachers’ Good Work

Milltown, Ga., April 28 – Rev. P. T. Knight, one of the ministerial students of the Oaklawn Baptist college, who is pastor of Good Hope Baptist church, near Naylor, is having phenominal success in his church work, Rev. Knight at almost every service gets an accession to his church.  In addition to being pastor of Good Hope Baptist church, Rev. Knight is also pastor of Brushy Creek church, near Nashville, Lois church and Waresboro church, near Waycross.  H. D. Warnock, W. O. Young, Willie Chism, other ministerial students of the same college are doing great work as missionaries for the Baptist cause.

Oaklawn Academy

Oaklawn Academy

Work began on the school in 1905 and the construction progressed rapidly.

The Valdosta Times
June 23, 1906  pg 7

Work on Milltown School   

Work has been progressing bravely upon the Milltown college, a large force of hands being already at work.  The construction is being pushed as rapidly as possible on account of the desire to be ready to open the school as soon as possible.   The original plans called for the construction of three large buildings, though it is thought now that five buildings will be erected.    The building grounds are said to be the handsomest in the state and the college campus will be one of the prettiest in the south when it is completed.  It contains fifteen acres and a pretty creek runs through the groves making it easy to convert them into a beautiful park.

The Atlanta Constitution
August 20, 1907

NEW  EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION IS BEING BUILT UP AT MILLTOWN

The new buildings of the High school of the Valdosta Baptist association, at Milltown, Ga….are rapidly nearing completion and will soon be ready for occupancy.    The larger building in the center, in which the classrooms will be located, is practically finished.  It will easily accommodate four or five hundred students.  The smaller buildings on each side are the dormitories, one for boys and one for girls, each having accommodations for practically one hundred.    The large building and one of the dormitories have been erected on small subscriptions, not a single give of more than $1,000 having been received.  The other dormitory is the gift of one man, who agreed to furnish the money for it, if enough to completely pay the cost of the other two buildings was raised.  Of this amount only $10.000 is now lacking and strenuous efforts are being made by the Valdosta Baptist association to raise this sum.     Rev. Graham Forrester, formerly one of the most prominent lawyers of the state, but now missionary of the Valdosta Baptist association, which includes portions of Lowndes, Berrien, Echols, Coffee, Ware, and Clinch counties, with headquarters in Valdosta, has been put in charge of the work of raising this money and is now in Atlanta for that purpose.    Mr. Forrester, in speaking of the school, said that it was one of the most promising institutions in South  Georgia, ideally located, and with no other school of like character in its immediate section.  Its graduates are fitted for the sophomore classes of the large colleges.  The school is situated at Milltown, in Berrien county, owns 15 acres of land, through which a beautiful stream runs, and which is heavily wooded with water oaks.    The institution had last year, when it was run in connection with the Milltown public school, an attendance of 200 and an increase is looked for this term.    Mr. Forrester declared his intention of staying in north Georgia until he got his $10,000, “for,” said he, “south Georgia has been contributing to north Georgia educational institutions for years and it is now north Georgia’s time to help us.”

By fall of 1906 construction had progressed to the point where classes could begin. The school opened September 17, 1906.  A partial list of the administrators and faculty who served at the school has been gleaned from newspaper accounts.

Board of Trustees
Dr. John E. Barnard, President
Dr. W. S. Patten
S. K. Patten
J. H. Bostic
Lucius M. Stanfill
Ewell Brown
J. W. Garbutt
Reverend A. C. Pyle, 1909

Principal
1906-1911 James Cuthbert Wilkinson, Science and English Bible
1911 J. A. Lott
1911 Sidney J. Underwood
1916-1921 J.A. Lott, Jr.

Teachers
1906
Reverend L. R. Christie
M. W. Bargeron
Miss Annie Hall, A.B. – English and History
Miss Ossie H. Burruss, A.B.  – Latin and Greek
Miss Leila Connell, A.B. Mathematics
Miss Annie May Arnold, A.B., B.M. – Piano and Coronet
Miss Belle Brinson,  A.B., B.M. – Violin and Preparatory
Miss Elizabeth Morgan – Preparatory
Miss Davis, Oratory

1908
Miss Lizzie Morgan
1909
Miss Jessie Elliot, Elocution

1910
Miss Lizzie T. Bennett, Latin and English
Miss Etna Shaw, Principal of 6th, 7th, and 8th grades
Miss Fannie Clements, Primary Grades
Miss Ethel Jones, Instrumental and Vocal Music
Miss Kitty Watson, Oratory
Miss Orrie Brown, Shorthand and Typewriting

1911
Ruth Smith, Expression
Miss Addie Stansell
Miss Wells, Music

 

Construction on the school continued for years, sometimes in the face of financial challenges.  By spring of 1909 the main building was nearing completion.

 

The Atlanta Constitution
April 24, 1909

Big Time at Milltown

    Milltown, Ga., April 23.  – (Special.) –  The local Masonic Lodge is figuring on having a big time on the completion of the main building of the Oaklawn Baptist college situated at this place.  The Masons will lay the cornerstone with the usual Masonic ceremonies.  They expect to have Grand Master Jeffries and Grand Senior Warden Henry Banks and, possibly some other men who stand high in Masonry.  The Oaklawn school will also have, on the opening day, several prominent speakers, and together with the Masons, they expect to have a big time.    The date for this big occasion will be announced later, as the carpenters and painters are putting the finishing touches on the building now.

Related Posts:

Wilmont Pierce and the Valdosta Baptist Association

Wilmont Pierce (1922-2009) An old newspaper clipping tells of the service of  Wilmont Pierce, of Ray City, as clerk of the Valdosta Baptist Association during the 1950s. Pierce was a graduate of Lanier County Schools, and in 1938 was a member of the 8th District high school championship basketball team.  He joined the First Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga., in the early 1940s and served as a deacon, teacher and in various other capacities. In 1943 he married  Helen D. Baskin, daughter of Armstrong B. “Bee” Baskin.    Pierce served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was stationed in France and Germany, as well as Fort Dix, N.J.  Following the War he enlisted in the regular Army for service in the Panama Canal Department. After discharge from the service Wilmont Pierce farmed at Ray City with his father-in-law. In the late 1960s, the Pierces moved to Valdosta, GA and later moved to Axson, in Coffee County, GA.

Wilmont Pierce, of Ray City, GA, Clerk of the Valdosta Baptist Association, 1953

Wilmont Pierce, of Ray City, GA, Clerk of the Valdosta Baptist Association, 1953

Clinch County News
November 6, 1953

Rev. Marvin Stedham, Lakeland, retiring moderator of the Valdosta Baptist Association, congratulates the newly elected moderator, Rev. Edgar Davis (center), Homerville pastor, who was named to the association’s highest office at sessions of the annual meeting in Valdosta Thursday.  Wilmont Pierce, Ray City layman (right), was re-elected as clerk of the organization for his third term.  Rev. Omer Graves, Nashville, who was named vice moderator was unable to attend.

Obituary of Wilmont Pierce

Wilmont Pierce, of Axon, Ga., passed away on Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2009, at his home following an extended illness. Mr. Pierce was born on Jan. 17, 1922, in the Mud Creek/Crisp area of Lanier County, the son of the late Joseph Candler Pierce and Nancy Richardson Pierce. Preceding him in death were his wife of 61 years, Helen D. Baskin Pierce, Axson, Ga., and his brothers and sister, Billy Pierce, Dilmus Pierce and Beatrice Pierce Everett, all of Lakeland, Ga. He was a graduate of Lanier County Schools. Mr. Pierce has served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was stationed in France and Germany, as well as Fort Dix, N.J. After his discharge he farmed with his father-in-law, the late A. B. Baskin of Lanier County. He was instrumental in re-organizing the Lanier County Farm Bureau and became the first insurance agent for the Georgia Farm Bureau Insurance Company in that county. He also opened the first Farm Bureau supply store that became a pilot project for Farm Bureau stores state-wide. He retired in the late 1990’s while residing in Valdosta, Ga. After moving there in the late 1960’s, he worked with the Grant’s retail stores, later managing hospitality properties for Jolly Inn. The King of the Road, Club House Inn and the Elks Club. He also managed properties in Thomasville, Ga. and Jacksonville Beach, Fla.  In his early years, Mr. Pierce had been a member of Unity United Methodist Church in Lanier County. He became a member of First Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga., in the early 1940’s where he served as a deacon, teacher and in various other capacities. After moving to Valdosta he was a member of First Baptist Church there. He and his wife moved to Coffee County in 2000, and was a member of Stokesville Baptist Church where he served as a teacher of senior adults until a few months ago. He is survived by his sons, Michael J. Pierce (Lou), Axson, Ga., W. Candler Pierce (Mary Ann), Wyoming, R.I., Bobby L. Pierce (Kay), Axson, Ga.; his grandchildren, M. Andrew Pierce (Robin), Olathe, Kan., Holly Smith, Axson, Ga., Wade C. Pierce (Jennifer), Keith H. Pierce, Clearwater, Fla., Jessica and Andrea Pierce, Boston, Mass., Justin Pierce, Wyoming, R.I., K. Lynn Eslinger (Jason), Cleveland, Tenn., Kimberly L. Hunter (Tim), Valdosta, Krista L. Pierce, Valdosta; as well as seven great-grandchildren. Surviving in his extended family are J.C. and Evelyn Pierce, Crawfordville, Ga., Howard and Dorothy Faye Pierce Ray, Ray City, Ga., Jessie Pierce Hudson, Valdosta, McDonald (Jabo) and Betty Pierce and Burma Pierce, Lakeland Ga., Vanelle Baskin, Valdosta, Gloria Baskin, Groves, Texas, Hagan and Shirley Baskin, Atlanta; and 16 nieces and nephews.

Memorial services for Mr. Pierce were held at First Baptist Church, Ray City, Ga., on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009, at 2:30 p.m. with the Rev. John Patten and the Rev. Bob Pierce officiating. Interment, with the Rev. Edgar Musgrove officiating followed in the Unity United Methodist Church cemetery near Lakeland, Ga., with military honors.

Mixon Graves at New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery

At the New Bethel Church cemetery in Lowndes County, about seven miles south of Ray City, Berrien County, GA, there lies six Mixon family graves.

Gravemarker of Michael Mixon, Private, Company H, 59th Georgia Infantry, CSA, 19 Mar 1830 - 6 Jan 1911, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery.

Gravemarker of Michael Mixon, Private, Company H, 59th Georgia Infantry, CSA, 19 Mar 1830 – 6 Jan 1911, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery.

 Amanda Smith married Michael Mixon about 1870 in Twiggs County, Georgia and shortly thereafter moved they moved to Pulaski County. Around 1874, Michael and Amanda moved to Cat Creek, Lowndes County, GA. She was enumerated with her husband in the Rays Mill District, Berrien County, in 1900.

Gravemarker of Amanda Smith Mixon, 1842 - 19__, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Amanda Smith Mixon, 1842 – 19__, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Katie Connell Mixon, 13 Feb 1870 - 2 Dec 1951, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Katie Connell Mixon, 13 Feb 1870 – 2 Dec 1951, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Benjamin Franklin Mixon was a son of James Michael Mixon and Drucilla Balcomb. B. F. Mixon and wife, Katie Connell, were enumerated in the Rays Mill district, Berrien County, Georgia in the Census of 1900.

Gravemarker of Benjamin Franklin Mixon, 15 Feb 1860 - 7 May 1920, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Benjamin Franklin Mixon, 15 Feb 1860 – 7 May 1920, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Johnny Mixon, died 7 Jun 1920, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Johnny Mixon, died 7 Jun 1920, New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

  Johnny Mixon, a son of Katie Connell and Benjamin Franklin Mixon, was born in 1912 and died June 7, 1920.

 Thomas Lafayette “Fate” Mixon was born during the Civil War, a son of Drucilla Balcomb and James Michael Mixon.  In the early 1900s he lived with his brother and sister-in-law, Benjamin and Katie Connell Mixon, in the Rays Mill district of Berrien County. He died in Ray City, GA about 1919.

Gravemarker of Thomas L. Mixon, 1862 - 19__. New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Gravemarker of Thomas L. Mixon, 1862 – 19__. New Bethel Baptist Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA

Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.  This was before the present brick church was built.

A group of men assembled at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City First Baptist Church), Ray City, GA. The church building was the original wooden structure that served before the present brick church was built. (Identifications Needed.)

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, photographed at Beaver Dam Baptist Church (now known as Ray City Baptist Church), Ray City, GA.

Walter Howard Knight, a son of William Washington Knight (1829 – 1863) and  Mary E Carroll (1839 – 1906), is the only identified individual in the photo above.  He was born November 28, 1859 in Berrien Co., GA and died June 13, 1934.  Walter Howard Knight is buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

BEAVER DAM BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, GA  Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the Baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, 1874, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill.  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the Beaver Dam church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and David J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

The original wooden church building at Beaver Dam was constructed by W.A. Bridges and James M. Baskin (see Baskin Family Helped Found Ray City Baptist Church).  Construction began in  January of 1875.  Baskin and Bridges hand hewed the timbers to frame the church.   Sawn lumber were purchased but had to be dressed by hand. The building was finished with windows and siding. The pulpit, table and pews were all built on site. J.M. Baskin made the doors himself.

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