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

Perry Thomas Knight image detail. Original image courtesy of

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


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

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

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

Miss Lizzie Morgan
Miss Jessie Elliot, Elocution

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

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.

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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.

In December, 1861 St. John the Baptist Lodge A. F. M. of Valdosta, elected the following officers; S. A. Smith, Jr., W. M.; S. W. Baker, J. W.; W. D. Howell, J. W.; J. M. Howell, Treasurer; Charles McKinnon, Secretary; R. T. Roberds, S. D.; Willis Allen, J. D., and H. P. Morris, Tyler.

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 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.



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,


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The Second Death of Reverend Robert Payne Fain

In the summer of 1911 The Valdosta Times reported that  Reverend Robert Payne Fain was seeking souls in Ray’s Mill, now Ray City, GA. Along with Reverend Fain was Miss McCord, who had just come from the Kansas City National Training School for Deaconesses and Missionaries.

The  Valdosta Times
June 10, 1911
Around Ray’s Mill

Rev. R. P. Fain is holding a tent meeting here [Ray City] now.  He began Saturday, holding his first service Saturday Evening.   Miss McCord, who is just from the Kansas City training school, lectured Sunday afternoon.  They had three services today, but only two in the week, at four o’clock in the afternoon and 7:30 in the evening.

Born Jefferson Payne Walker (1860-1921) in Texas, it is said he changed his name to Robert Payne Fain about 1883 after being falsely accused of theft.  His father was James Carr Walker, a Methodist minister who was one of the original settlers of the community of New York, TX.  His mother was Mary Ann Fain.

Robert Payne Fain left Texas to attend Emory College in Oxford, GA., and became a Methodist Minister in the South Georgia Conference. On October 27, 1889 he married Remmie Carolyn Howell in Lowndes County, Georgia.  The Fains made their home in the 1300 Georgia Militia District, in present Lanier County.


Tifton Gazette, September 9, 1908

Children of Robert Payne Fain and Remmie Carolyn Howell:

  1. Laura Fain 1892 –
  2.  Robert L Fain 1894 –
  3.  James Edward FAIN 1896 – 1960
  4.  William Howell Fain 1898 –
  5.  Mary Fane 1900 –
  6.  Ona Fain 1902 –
  7.  Elethia Fain 1906 –
  8. Jewell Fain 1909 –

Robert Payne Fain, aka Jefferson Fain Walker, died January 6, 1921 while attending a meeting at  Hahira, Georgia.

Death of R. P. Fain

Strange death of Reverend R. P. Fain

Strange death of Reverend R. P. Fain. This account appeared in the El Paso Herald, El Paso Texas

El Paso Herald

Minister Left For Dead Resucitated  By Another Pastor

Valdosta, Ga., Jan. 7. – Stricken with acute indigestion, the Rev. R. P. Fain was given up for dead while attending a ministers’ meeting at Hahira, Ga., and laid out in the church while his son went to inform the family.  Meantime, Rev. John Stanford arrived and, pressing on the “body” with his knees, resuscited the minister.

Death of  Reverend R. P. Fain reported in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.

Death of Reverend R. P. Fain reported in the Thomasville Times-Enterprise.

Thomasville Times-Enterprise


Peculiar Experience in Valdosta When Minister Died, Was Revived and Apparently Well and Then Died a Short Time Later.

Valdosta, Ga., Jan. 7. – Rev. R. P. Fain, of Hahira, a well known minister of South Georgia, was the victim of suspended animation in a church there during a meeting of ministers Wednesday, and died last night after going to the station to bid departing preachers farewell.  He was stricken on the street and died before he could be removed to his home.

Second death was fatal to Reverend R. P. Fain, Americus Times-Recorder, Jan 13, 1921

Second death was fatal to Reverend R. P. Fain, Americus Times-Recorder, Jan 13, 1921


Hahira Minister Succumbs After Being Revived From Spell

   Valdosta, Jan. 7. – Rev. R. P. Fain, of Hahira, well known minister of South Georgia, who was a victim of suspended animation in church there during a meeting of ministers Wednesday, died last night after going to the station to bid the departing preachers farewell.  He was stricken on the street and died before he could be removed to his home.
    Mr. Fain was the pastor of the Methodist church at Hahira, and had been very actively engaged in helping to entertain the visiting ministers, comprising all of the preachers of the Valdosta district.
    About 11 o’clock Wednesday while the ministerial conference was in session, he was stricken.  Some of the ministers present saw him tottering and about to fall and rushed to his rescue.  They held him up until he was, apparently, dead, then laid him out.  In a few minutes his body was cold, his face black, and rigor mortis had apparently set in.  His son, Rev Ed Fain, as well as other ministers present, gave him up for dead, and the younger Mr. Fain went to the house to inform his mother of his father’s death.
    After fifteen or twenty minutes Rev. John Stanford, of Adel, decided that an effort should be made to revive him; so he jumped on the prostrate form with his knees and began to work his arms violently, to see if his respiratory organs would not begin to function.  After a few minutes the stricken preacher gave one breath and later on he revived so that he could be carried to his home.
    Later on in the day he was able to disrobe himself and go to bed. Yesterday morning he was able to return to the church and resume his work among the preachers. It seems that he had a very violent attack of acute indigestion.


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Constitution of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church

New Ramah Primitive Baptist  Church (1913 – 2010)

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, Berrien County, GA was founded in 1913. The church building was dismantled in 2010.

New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, Berrien County, GA was founded in 1913. The church building was dismantled in 2010.

New Ramah Church was located on the southwest side of Ray City, between Park Street and Cat Creek. The primitive baptist church was organized August 30,  1913, and built by four Knight brothers who were the descendants of William A. KnightAaron Anderson Knight was called as the first pastor and served until his death in 1925.

Upon the constitution of New Ramah Church, the minutes of the church recorded this initial entry:

State of Georgia, Berrien, Co.
August 30, 1913

By the Goodness of God, now when names are after written, having been Baptized upon a Profession of faith by the Lord Jesus Christ having here to fore been members of different Churches did consent on the propriety of becoming a Constituted body near Rays Mill, Ga.

Believing it to be expedient, finding a fellowship with each other, jointly chosen to set apart this day for Constitution.

Petitioning Salem, Empire, Unity & Pleasant Churches for Ministerial aid as a presbatry (Presbytery) which has granted Eld. I. A. Wetherington from Unity Church, Eld. H. W. Parrish from Salem Church, Eld. A. A. Knight from Pleasant Church, Eld. E. R. Blanton from Pleasant Hill Church and Eld. E. Lindsey from Ty Ty Church were clothed with church authority and gave theyr attenuance and letter of dismission being presented and no deficiency appearing, being sound in the facts and principals of the Gospel, that is to say believing that the scriptures of the Old and the New Testament are the Word of God and contains everything necessary for the faith and practice, Particular the existence of one true God, the fall of Man and his inability to recover himself, God’s savoring [sovereign] choices, of his people in Christ, theyr Covenant head from before the foundation of the world effectual calling purification by the imputed righteousness of Christ alone,  The final perseverance of the saints in grace, and eternal salvation in Glory, the duty of baptism by immersion, and the Lords Supper. Thus pronouncing to be upon above principals.
      And having this day being the 30th day of August, 1913, been pronounced a Church of Christ in order
        having united upon equal terms and here after be called and known by the name of New Ramah Church, and for this end deliberately solemly give our selves to the Lord, and to each other by the will of God, Independent of any religious body or congregation what ever, covenanting and promising each other to live to gether as becomes brethering in Gospel hands for the maintaining of Christian fellowship and gospel discipline agreeable to the holy scripture and as true yoke fellows agreed to stand or fall together in order, for which we do agree to receive, and adopt the following plan of or form of Decorum and Rule of practice.

Church Decorum
 New Ramah Church

1st   – – – –  —— —— or Conference shall be —– —– —- —– every member must —- —- —– —— —– —–

2nd  Church meetings shall begin and end with Divine worship.

3rd Church members failing to attend two Conferences in succession it shall be theyr duty to make known to the Church the reason of theyr absence at the next conference, and the Church judge of the same, but if the failure happen without the Church having knowledge of there being laudable reasons, she shall have him cited and Judge of such failure.

4th The Pastor of the Church shall preside as moderator when present unless some objections be made in which case the Church shall choose another

5th At the opening of every Conference it shall be the duty of the moderator to invite visiting brethering & Sisters of Sister Churches to seats with the Brethern of this Church, and then make known to the Congregation that a door of the Church is open for the reception of members the proceed to take up all Reference as they stand in order and all business that comes before the Church in order

6th  The moderator shall in his Power preserve order, Shall explain and put questions. He shall have an assistant (when present) if needed but in his absence a moderator protem shall be appointed.

7th The Moderator shall have the same right of speech as another member but shall not vote unless the body be equally divided.

8th The Church shall have a Clerk who shall keep a fair record of theyr proceedings and sign theyr order before the Conference rises.  Minutes taken by the Clerk shall be read and amended before the conference rises if necessary.

9th  In debate, only one person shall speak at the same time, who shall rise from his seat and address the Moderator in an orderly manner.

10th  The person speaking shall strictly attend to the subject in debate, shall not reflect on the person that spoke before him by making remarks on his slips, or imperfections, but convey his own ideas.

11th  The person speaking shall not be interrupted unless he breaks through these rules.  Then the moderator shall call to  order if dissatisfied he shall —- the voice of the conference.

12th No person shall speak more than twice to the same proposition till every one choosing to speak has spoken.

The Church minutes of New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church provide the list of male and female members below.  Notations next to the names were updated by the Clerk with the status by which the member joined and departed the congregation. Many notations were too faint to be legible for transcription.


B. H. Sirmans
C. H. Vickers
W. F. Rayaln  Exp
D. W. Townsend  dead
C. R. Herring Dead
J. T. Moore  Dead
J. W. Conner Dis By letter
H. T. Cercey
C. C. Smith Exp
L. L. Blanton
Gilford Stalvey
M. S. Pevy
Willie Green Dis by letter
A. M. Ray  By letter
O.W. Mikell by let
P.S. Skinner let
D. J. Skinner
Joe Spells
S. G. Gaskins
Robert Burkholtz
John Burkholtz
Jimmie Taylor
K. S. Bennett
Lacy Shaw


Mary Sirmans Dead
Carrie Peters Dead
E. B. Clements
Ada Gaskins
Chloe Johnson
Cassie Hall Con X
Ola Mikell by let
Roena Clements Con
Lillie Spells bapt
Minnie Herrin bapt
Eva Moore bap X
Mary Cersey let
Elizabeth —- X
Nettie Skinner let
Lizzie Smith
Laura Chitty bapt
Mary? Skinner dead
Lila Allen
Fannie Gaskins
Kizzie Woodard
Eliza Knight let
Lula Kendrick bapt
Lula Fender bapt
Delia Bennett bapt
Mary Allen bapt
Della Spells bapt
Pearlie Peevy bapt
Orie Blanton ? bapt

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Eulogy of Elder Ansel Parrish

Ansel Parrish (1824 -1891)

 Elder Ansel Parrish, of Berrien County, GA was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist preachers of his time.  Ansel Parrish joined Pleasant Church at the age of 19 and was baptized by Elder Moses Westberry, Jr.  He thereafter dedicated his life to the service of the Primitive Baptist faith. During the Civil War he ministered to the confederate soldiers in 50th Georgia Regiment at their encampment near Savannah, GA.  He became a leader among the Primitive Baptists, and preached at many of the churches in the area.  From the death of Elder William A. Knight in 1860 until 1865, the close of the Civil War,  Ansel Parrish served as pastor of Union Church, the mother church of all the Primitive Baptist churches in this section. He died January 16, 1891 leaving a widow and seventeen children, and eighty grandchildren.

Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891). Image courtesy of

Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891). Image courtesy of

Recognized throughout the Wiregrass, “he was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church”.

The Thomasville Times
August 16, 1884

Moultrie Meanderings.

The yearly meeting of the Primitive Baptists at Barber’s church, three miles east of here, came off last week. The attendance was large, Elder Ancil Parrish, one of the old landmarks, was present. Uncle Ancil bids fair to weather the storms of several winters yet. The creed of these people may be at fault, or not, I don’t pretend to say; but the predominant idea of their lives seems to be embodied in the maxim: “Be honest, industrious and attend to your own business, and they endeavor to carry out this proposition with might and main.

Ansel Parrish married Molcy Knight on December 15, 1842.

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 - 1897). Image courtesy of

Elder Ansel Parrish, (1824 -1891), and Molcy Knight Parrish (1826 – 1897). Image courtesy of

Following the death of Ansel Parrish on January 16, 1891, Eulogies appeared in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 24, 1891

He Will Be Missed.

        Many of our readers knew a man, now gone from view, whose plain and simple life, unadorned with the polish of modern culture, illustrated in a striking degree many of the higher and nobler attributes of manhood; whose life-work stamped him a man of power.  Although denied in his youth the benefits of the ordinary high schools of the country, and necessarily therefore a stranger to theological seminaries, yet he had the gift of oratory, and the force of strong convictions. He expounded the Scriptures as he understood them, and labored to make men better.  He was not skilled in the arts of the modern doctors of divinity, nor was he a juggler with words. He was a plain blunt man. To him there shone a light through the clouds of the letter of the word which fired his heart and loosened his tongue. He went out among his people and taught them justice and the ways of peace. He was a law-giver of the old-time type. When brothers quarreled he called them together, heard the testimony, settled the dispute, and sent them away reconciled. He always kept them out of the Courthouse when he could, but if he failed he followed them to the bar of the court, and there exercised a wonderful influence in the settlement of the case. The people believed his heart was pure and his judgment was sound, and seldom a jury was found which would not accept his convictions and make them their own verdict, in spite of the pleadings of the lawyers. It was his custom on such occasions to take a seat within the bar of the court room, and when the lawyers on his side opposed to his convictions would rise to address the jury he would sit dumb and motionless. It is said the lawyers, knowing his power, would often address much of their speech to him, hoping to draw some token of assent, but he could not be coaxed or driven from his position. But when the other side – the right side – was being presented to the jurors, his face would show his sympathy; and repeatedly, and unconsciously, as it were, when strong points were being driven home by the logic of the speaker, or when important quotations bearing on the case would be drawn from the evidence, he would nod assent, and give audible tokens of approval. He was always in touch with the juries, and the verdicts always came right.
It has been often said by lawyers practicing in that court that he was more greatly to be feared, if he was against their client, than the logic and eloquence of the most astute practitioner in the circuit.
This good old man – simple and home-spun in his ways – was a power in the region about him. If he drove to the county town, or to a railway station, a crowd would gather round his buggy before he could get out, and two or three would begin unhitching his horse.
He asked no money for his preaching, but he always had plenty – the product of a well-tilled farm; and no widow, or other deserving poor person in the neighborhood, went unprovided for if he knew of their want. It is said that he studiously avoided giving publicity to his charities, and that the beneficiaries were often ignorant as to the identity of their benefactor.
The fame of this man went beyond the limits of his neighborhood and county. Wherever those of his faith and order assembled in Wiregrass Georgia or Florida he was known, and his name was reverently mentioned. If he was present he was a leader; if absent, his absence was felt.
Such a man was Elder Ansel Parrish, the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County, as seen by one who was neither his partisan nor his parishioner.
When news of his fatal illness spread over the country hundreds of his devoted friends and followers journeyed to the bedside of the dying preacher to get a last look into the depths of those great grey eyes before the light went out and the old-time fire burnt down in their sockets. And when they laid his body away in the old family burying ground, a great concourse of people gathered to mingle their tears with the sod in the new made mound.

A week later, The Valdosta Times followed up with a tribute to Elder Parrish.

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, January 31, 1891

 Ansel Parrish

        A Brief Biographical Sketch Of One Who Will Be Missed. “Oh for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice that is still.” Elder Ansel Parrish was born in Bulloch County, Ga., July 7th, 1824, and died at his home seven miles southwest of Nashville in Berrien County January 16th, 1891.
Elder Ansel was the fourth son of Henry and Nancy Parrish, who moved from Bulloch to Lowndes, now Berrien County, in 1825, and the future preacher learned to take his first toddling steps at a camp fire on the road while his parents were moving here.
He grew up with the meager opportunities common to our country and his literary attainments were therefore meager. Of a calm temper he was early separated from the wild life of the country and joined the Primitive Baptist Church in 1843, being in his nineteenth year, and was ordained an Elder March 18th, 1854. He was married to Miss Mollsey Knight, whose father was William Knight  [William Cone Knight] and her mother a daughter of Jesse Carter, thus uniting the two largest family connections in Lowndes County. To write of him as a neighbor and friend, a husband and father would be out of place here. Those who knew him best loved him most.
It is as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus I would fain write most, and then, he was so widely known that the task will alas fall short of his merit. The writer heard him preach first and most frequently at Salem (Adel) Church of which he was one of the Pastors for a long number of years, assisted by his uncle, brother and co-worker the late lamented Elder Ezekiel J. Williams. As a preacher he was earnest in the faith as he interpreted the word of God, yet not harsh, ever bearing in mind the faith of others. He devoted his early and mature manhood to his Master’s service and when the infirmities of age began to creep on him he seemed to not regard them as an excuse to satisfy self ease, but labored on, and when he could not stand in the sacred desk to deliver his message he preached seated. For all this work and work in physical pain, he never, to my knowledge, asked a dollar as a reward.
A good substantial farmer, he was not only self sustaining but ever ready to open his hand to the needy when his already open heart heard the cry of distress. Seventeen children, 14 of whom are living, 7 sons and 7 daughters were born to him. He leaves 80 living grandchildren, and 24 dead, preceded him of his 8 brothers and 2 sisters, only the venerable Josiah Parrish of Ava, and Absalom of Arkansas survive him.
Elder Parrish was at the time of his death Pastor of the following Churches:  Pleasant and Cat Creek, literally falling in the line of duty. May his fidelity to his Master’s cause be taken as an example by those whom he has so long and faithfully warned. In him his family has lost all that goes to make a husband and father, and his Church its wisest counselor.

The archives of the US GenWeb project provide the following biography:

Biography of Elder Ansel Parrish

Elder ANSEL PARRISH was one of the ablest and best known Primitive Baptist mininsters in his day for over 35 years prior to his death. He was considered a great power in the church as well as out of the church. He was born in Bullock County, July 7, 1824, a son of Henry and Nancy Parrish.
        He was married Dec. 15, 1842, in Lowndes (now Berrien) County, to Molcy Knight, born Nov. 7, 1826, daughter of William Cone Knight. 
        Elder Parrish was first converted and united with Pleasant Church in Lowndes County, Aug. 19, 1843, and was baptized. Mrs. Parrish followed him into the church and was baptized November, 1847. He was ordained a deacon in his church, Feb. 2, 1848, and served in this office until he was licensed to preach, Jan. 17, 1852. Two years later, March 19, 1854, he was ordained to the full Gospel Ministry by a presbytery composed of Elders Wm. A. Knight, J. B. Smith and J.E.W. Smith. From then until his death, Jan. 16, 1891, his was a very busy and fruitful ministry among the Primitive Baptist Churches in Berrien and adjoining counties. His first cousin, Elder E. J. Williams, was Pastor of Pleasant Church when he (Elder Parrish) was ordained and continued as such until 1881 when he declined re-election; thereupon Elder Parrish was called. He continued as Pastor of his home church until his death. At the time (1881), he was already serving Cat Creek Church in Lowndes County, and in April, 1881, he was called as Pastor by Friendship Church near Hahira, also Salem Church in Adel. These four Churches he continued to serve as pastor until his death 13 years later. He also served as Moderator of the Union Association several years. Elder Parrish owned a large tract of land in Berrien County and gave each of his sons a farm when they married. Mrs. Parrish died June 25, 1897. She and her husband were buried in the Lois Cemetery near Pleasant Church.


Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 - 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source:

Grave of Ansel Parrish (1824 – 1891), Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA. Image source:

Children of Molcy Knight and Ansel Parrish

  1. Rachel E Parrish 1844 –
  2. Elizabeth L Parrish 1845 – 1928, married Marion Register
  3. James W Parrish 1847 – 1916
  4. Nancy E Parrish 1848 – 1924
  5. Mary Eleanor Parrish 1849 – 1909, married John Lee
  6. Henry William Parrish 1851 – 1928
  7. John A Parrish 1853 – 1914
  8. Sarah Laura Parrish 1854 – 1933, married William M. Register
  9. Ezekiel Crofford Parrish 1856 – 1924
  10. Martha M.  “Mattie”  Parrish 1860 – 1942, married Aaron A. Knight
  11. Josiah Allen Jones Parrish 1861 – 1929
  12. Jesse A Parrish 1864 – 1938
  13. Amanda Celestia Parrish 1866 – 1900
  14. Naomi Parrish 1867 – 1886
  15. Moorna Parrish 1868 –
  16. Child Parrish 1869 –
  17. Alderman B Parrish 1871 – 1932

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Love Story of Rebecca J. Fox

Rebecca J. Henderson ~ Traveling Evangelist
Rebecca J. Fox

Traveling evangelists were a prominent part of the religious life in Ray’s Mill.  In November of 1909 evangelist Rebecca J. Fox came to Ray’s Mill, Georgia to preach to gospel.  It was here that Fox’s gospel tent was burned by vandals (see Arson and Evangelism in Rays Mill, GA.) Here also, she met the widower Manassah Henderson and within a month the two were married.

Mrs. Henderson later published the story of her evangelical work. Excerpts of her experiences in Ray’s Mill are related below. (see the entire text at

Manassah W. Henderson met evangelist Rebecca J. Fox while attending a 1909 revival at Ray City, GA

Manassah W. Henderson met evangelist Rebecca J. Fox while attending a 1909 revival at Ray City, GA

Mrs. Rebecca J. Henderson’s Experience In Twenty-Six Years of Christian Work.

After I received the Baptism the Lord would not allow me to make any solicitation or to take up an offering in meetings for months, that He might lead me by His Spirit and providence. After holding tent meetings about ten weeks in Jacksonville, Fla., Brother R. T. Waldrup came after me on the 29th of September, 1909, and escorted me to his home in Valdosta, Georgia, where I had been invited to rest and work with them in the Pentecostal Mission as long as I would.

After spending some weeks in their delightful home at 913 Patterson street, Brother M. C. Griffin, a cousin of Mr. Henderson’s, came and invited me to come to his home, Ray’s Mill, Georgia, and hold a tent meeting.

During this time I received my letters back from Mr. Fox, and at the same time I received a letter from Mr. Henderson written in a spirit of great tenderness thanking me for the spiritual help I had been to him. He was converted in my meeting at Ray’s Mill.

In this letter he spoke of the desolations of his home, since the death of his dear wife, and two precious children some years ago by typhoid fever. And said, his young lady daughter and his two young sons were all that were at home now, and they were very lonely, and they all desired that I should spend the Christmas holidays with them. He attended the meetings often, and we carried on a correspondence for a few weeks.

One morning the Lord gave me a vision of Mr. Henderson’s and Brother Crosby’s faces. They both came to Ray’s Mill that morning to services. As they approached the house Mr. Henderson said, “Get ready to go back with us we have come after you. We want you to make us a visit and rest a while before your meeting begins at Willacoochee.” I went with them, “doubting nothing, for He had sent them.” Acts 10:20. We left the meeting with Brother Griffin…

The following is extracts from my adopted daughter’s letter written at this time.

Mist, Arkansas,
December 22, 1909.
Dear Mama:I received your letter last night and was pleased and surprised also as I read through its contents; and then took a long breath and read it the second time.I do hope and pray if you and Mr. Henderson marry that you will be happy for you deserve to be. I would not be surprised if you aren’t Mrs. Henderson by now. I do hope he will be better to you than Fox.Now, won’t you look, step-mother of nine children. Ha, Ha, you are about to get ahead of me. My two, though they are so small they nearly get the best of me.******I am not going to write much for I know you won’t have time to read much.

Miss Maggie Henderson is right sweet looking, I do hope they will treat you O. K., and you will be as “snug as a bug in a rug.”

We have had such a cold spell, snow is six inches deep. It certainly has been cold. I have been hugging the fire ever since the snow.

I am sending you a sofa pillow cover for your new home.

Well, dear, wishing you many merry Christmases and many many Happy Years, bye-bye now. With lots of love and congratulations.


When Mr. Henderson told me as soon as there was a guardian appointed for his minor children, and his two youngest placed in school he would be ready and glad to go with me any where the Lord lead in this country or to the islands of the sea and assist me in every way possible in spreading the Gospel if I would be his wife The Lord made me know that he was the one He intended to go with me.

After fasting and praying, I told him if it really was His will that Mr. Henderson and I should marry to let it be known by having it so that Pastor Mahon could come from Jacksonville, Fla., to my dear, sweet friend, Sister Waldup’s house, in Valdosta, Ga., to unite us in marriage. I wrote him and received the following telegram:

Jacksonville, Fla.,
December 18, 1909.

Mrs. R. J. Fox,
913 N. Patterson St.,
Valdosta, Ga.

Expect me on Georgia Southern tonight at 11:30.




We were united in marriage by my beloved pastor, W. L. C. Mahon, pastor of the Main Street Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla., at Brother and Sister R. T. Waldrup’s Pentecostal Home, 913 North Patterson street, Valdosta, Ga., Dec. 19, 1909. In the midst of a Pentecostal service, Brother Frank Denny the sweet singer and Pentecostal evangelist, delivered the message much of which was set to music. My husband is a member of the Missionary Baptist Church at Willacoochee, Coffee County, Georgia.

A few days after we were married we closed up the house and we all took a pleasant trip.

Mr. Henderson took me to Jacksonville, Fla., and went in person and thanked those who had shown me kindness. We visited his children who are settled in homes of their own, and his old friends and relatives, who showed us every kindness that affection could suggest, until we were made to say: “The Lord has dealt by us, as He did by His servant Job, rendering us double for all He had taken from us.” We have four sturdy sons, and six beautiful daughters living and five sons-in-law.

The following is extracts from my adopted daughter’s letter written during this time:

Mist, Arkansas,
January 3, 1910.

My Dear Mama:

I will have to begin my letter with an apology, for not answering your letter announcing your marriage sooner, which,of course, calls for congratulations. I have a “iti bitsie” excuse, however, that is I have been almost run to death with company during the Christmas holidays. I had a nice Christmas but with a house full of company one can’t find much time for letter writing. I started this letter New Year’s day or I got as far as the date written down, but Ethel was so fretful I had to give it up and take her. You will have to consider that blot a “big, old” kiss and maybe it will not look so ugly. I wrote you last New Year’s day, for I remember I said in my letter, “I will start the year right by writing to you.” But, mama dear, I feel so much better over your welfare this year than I did last for I think you have a good husband to be with you now, and I truly hope and pray so, and last year you were just a lonely little woman out by yourself away from those you love. I am certainly thankful you are prospering so well. 

Mama, if I have been slow in answering your letter announcing your marriage, you have my sincerest wishes for your happiness; and if my congratulation is late in reaching you be assured it is none the less heartfelt and earnest. As I have not the pleasure of a personal acquaintance with my “new papa” I can not say so many pleasant things about him as I am certain he deserves, but I know you well enough to unhesitatingly say that the man of your choice must be one of honor and courage. Now, mama, you must not get the “big head” you are dressing so fine and having such a trip I am afraid your head will get to swimming.

Well, mama, I would love to see you and talk to you, but Iam glad you are so happy and getting along O. K. Now, as Iwant to write to Mr. Henderson I will close for now, with lots of love from your daughter,


P. S. The presents were beautiful. I was very pleased with my pretty waist, and Norma and Ethel thought their dolls fine.

Mr . Henderson is a member of a prominent family of Irwin county and lived at Willacoochee. He had spent most fifty years in great wickedness. He attended a tent meeting I was holding at Ray’s Mill, before the tent was burned by the enemies of this Gospel. He came to the meeting to investigate this doctrine, and came under its power at once, and the appetite for liquor and tobacco was taken from him. “And God who knoweth the hearts bear him witness, giving him the Holy Ghost, even as He did unto us, purifying his heart by faith.” And now he is devoting his means and life to the spread of this Gospel.

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Historic Marker Placed at Site of New Ramah Church

Historical Marker - New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA.

Historical Marker – New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City, GA.


Elder A.A. Knight                  9/1913 – 6/1925
Elder C.H. Vickers                 9/1925 – 10/1970
Elder J.R. Stallings                1/1971 – 12/1971
Elder Elisha Roberts             1/1972 – 8/1973
Elder M.S. Peavy                    9/1973 – 9/1978
Elder Robert A. Register    9/1978 – 8/1996
Elder Robert Skinner           9/1996 -12/2000

On September 16, 1913 E.M.  Knight conveyed 7 acres of land to the elders of New Ramah Primitive Baptist church for $300. The statement of faith included in deed was as follows:

“New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, their successors and assigns, holding to the doctrine of predestination, election, and the final perseverance of the Saints, observing the ordinances of Communion, Baptism (Emersion) and washing the Saints feet, and known as the Old School Primitive Baptist, holding one protracted meeting annually, and that is to be only three days, and using no musical instrument in the worship, (any departure from the above principles shall disinherit such action from any and all the rights, privileges, and title to the property).”

Historic Marker - New Ramah Church, Ray City, GA.

Historic Marker – New Ramah Church, Ray City, GA.

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.

Reverend Clayton Samuel Yawn

Clayton Samuel Yawn (1895 – 1950)

Clayton Samuel Yawn lived in Ray City, GA from about 1918 to about 1935.  He was the father of Caswell Yawn, Aline Yawn and  D’Ree Yawn, subject of the previous post.

He was born and raised in Appling County,  and went on to be college educated and trained in the ministry. Some time before 1919 he came to live in Ray City.  However, he does not appear in the 1144 Georgia Militia District in the census of 1920.  It may have been during this time that Clayton was away at school.

C.S Yawn of Ray City, GA was listed among the ordained ministers of the United States in the 1919 American Baptists Yearbook.

Two years before, on June 5, 1917, the Reverend C.S. Yawn registered for the WWI draft in Appling County . The 22 year-old Yawn was described as medium height and build, with grey eyes and black hair.

Clayton Samuel Yawn attended the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL in 1918.

Clayton Samuel Yawn attended the Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, IL in 1918.

Clayton Samuel Yawn and Vera Laura Roberts were married about 1921.

In the 1930 census  Vera and Clayton Samuel Yawn were living  in Ray City, GA boarding in the household of her uncle James and aunt Mollie Studstill. Clayton Yawn listed his profession as “commercial traveler,” working in the “automobile accessories” industry.

Clayton Samuel Yawn died in 1950.

Florence Morning News
Saturday, January 14, 1950

Rev. Clayton S. Yawn

    Funeral services for the Reverend Clayton S. Yawn, Baptist minister, will be conducted at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon.
    Officiating will be the Reverend William L. Faircloth, pastor of the Rosewood Baptist Church of Columbia, and the Reverend Jasper Hinson, pastor of the Holly Hill Baptist Church.
    Committal services and burial will follow in the family plot of Norway cemetery.
    Mr. Yawn died Thursday afternoon at Bruce Hospital in Florence [SC].  He had been in failing health for the past year. At the time of  his death he was pastor of the Baptist Tabernacle of Ocean Drive.  He was a former pastor of the Grace Baptist Tabernacle of Bucksport.
    He was born at Hazlehurst, Georgia July 25 1895, the son of the late James H. and Lydia Carter Yawn of Baxley, Ga.  He had resided in Columbia, Sumter, Florence, Ocean Drive and Norway.  He was a member of the Rosewood Baptist church of Columbia, the Lions Club, and the Junior Order.
    Reverend Yawn was educated at Mercer University, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago, and the Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans.
    He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Ann Moss Moore Yawn of Norway; a son, Caswell Yawn of Atlanta, Ga.; two daughters, Misses Deree and Aline Yawn of New York City; a brother, Evan Yawn of Hazlehurst, Ga.; two sisters, Mrs. Edna Sapp and Mrs. Agnes Franklin of Brunswick, Ga.;  a nephew,Codis Yawn, of Charleston and two grandchildren survive also.
    The body of Reverend Yawn was taken from Waters Funeral Home Friday afternoon to the residence of Miss Emma Moss at Norway to remain until the hour of the funeral services.
    Active bearers will be Joe Cleaton, Henry Price, Frank Cunningham, the Reverenc Keith Gordon, J.W. Hughes, Dr. J. L Bruce, Dr. W. L. Mills, J. H. Price and R. L. Moore.

Another Alma Mater of Clayton Samuel Yawn was The Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans (image circa 1938).

Another Alma Mater of Clayton Samuel Yawn was The Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans (image circa 1938).


Mercer University, Macon, GA

Mercer University, Macon, GA



Obituary of Clayton Samuel Yawn, 1950, Florence, SC.

Obituary of Clayton Samuel Yawn, 1950, Florence, SC.

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

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