WWI Berrien County Draft Board

1917 Berrien County Draft Board

Men who are eligible to draft shall not “hide behind petticoats or children.”

On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. The local boards, composed of leading civilians in each community, were entrusted with the administration of the selective draft. These Registration Boards, also known as Exemption Boards, issued draft calls in order of numbers drawn in a national lottery and determined exemptions for dependency, essential occupations, or conscientious objection. Board Members appointed for Berrien County, GA were:

  • Joe Varn Nix, Sheriff of Berrien County, GA
  • James Henry Gaskins, Clerk of the Superior Court of Berrien County, GA
  • Joel Ira Norwood , Ordinary of Berrien County, GA
  • Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter, Physician

 

Joseph Varn Nix (1882-1963) <br /> Sheriff Joe Varn Nix, appointed by Governor Harris as Executive Officer of the Berrien County Registration Board for the 1917 WWI selective draft. Image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Joseph Varn Nix (1882-1963)
Sheriff Joe Varn Nix, appointed by Governor Harris as Executive Officer of the Berrien County Registration Board for the 1917 WWI selective draft. Image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

 

Jim Gaskins <br> With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry "Jim" Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Exemption Board.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Exemption Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger. Gaskins was a former resident of Ray City, GA

Jim Gaskins (1872-1928)
With the onset of World War I in 1917,  James Henry “Jim” Gaskins was appointed as clerk of the Berrien County Registration Board.  Gaskins was dismissed from the Registration Board in December, 1917 after he became embroiled in a scandal over reward money for capture of a draft dodger. Gaskins was a former resident of Ray City, GA

 

Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter (1858-1932), of Nashville, GA was appointed as Physician for the Berrien County Draft Registration Board, 1917

Dr Lafayette Alonzo Carter (1858-1932)
Dr. L. A. Carter, of Nashville, GA was appointed as Physician for the Berrien County Draft Registration Board, 1917

 

The fourth member of the board, Joel Ira Norward (1869-1956) (not pictured), was a native of Berrien County, GA born on July 9, 1869, in that section of Berrien later cut into Lanier, Georgia. Joel came from a large family, with eight brothers and sisters; at the time of his birth his father, Theodore Gourdine Norwood, was 65 and his mother, Elizabeth Green Norwood, was 32. Joel Ira Norwood married Laura Virginia Shaw on October 23, 1890 and they made their home in Nashville, GA. Joel farmed for a time and was elected county treasurer of Berrien County in 1896 and re-elected in 1900 and 1904, but declined to run for the position in the election of 1908.  In the early 1900s, J.I. Norwood was a business partner of fellow Draft Board member, Dr. L. A. Carter, the two being joint owners of a 250 acre land lot situated on Grand Bay, east of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City). By 1910, J. I. Norwood had his primary occupation from farming to selling insurance for a living. In 1910, he campaigned unsuccessfully for election as county sheriff of Berrien County. In 1912 he was elected Ordinary of Berrien County and was re-elected in 1916.  J. I. Norwood and Laura Virginia Shaw had seven children. He died on November 2, 1956, in Lowndes, Georgia, at the age of 87, and was buried in Adel, Georgia.

The Governor’s appointments and charges to the Registration Boards was published in the Atlanta Constitution, May 20, 1917 edition.

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On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. Registrars for Berrien County were J.V. Nix, J.H. Gaskins, J.I. Norwood, and L.A. Carter.

On May 17, 1917, the Governor of Georgia announced the appointment of county boards of registration for the selective draft for WWI. Registrars for Berrien County were J.V. Nix, J.H. Gaskins, J.I. Norwood, and L.A. Carter.

 

Atlanta Constitution
May 20, 1917

Governor Harris Appoints Boards of Registration

Officials in Charge Must Perfect Organizations and Swear in Registrars Within Five Days.

SHERIFFS AND MAYORS GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS

Registrations Will Be Taken at Regular Precinct Voting Places Between Hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m.

     Following President Wilson’s proclamation of Friday, setting June 5 as selective draft registration day, Governor Nat E. Harris received a telegram from Provost Marshal General E. H. Crowder Saturday morning directing him to order the several county registration boards of Georgia to organize and prepare to take this registration.
     Through Adjutant General J. Van Holt Nash, who will supervise the Georgia registration, orders were sent out Saturday to every sheriff and the mayors of all cities of more than 30,000 population in Georgia to organize their boards, swear in their registrars and to report the perfection of such organizations to the adjutant general within five days. General Nash sent out these orders by wire and is forwarding by mail necessary blanks for making the report of organization back to him.
Each county board is to be composed of the sheriff, the clerk, the ordinary and a county physician in such counties as have county physicians.
     It is estimated that one registrar will be required for every 80 men to be registered.

Hours of Registration.
     The registration will be taken between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., June 5, at the regular precinct voting places. Every man, sick or well, married or single, white or black, between the ages of 21 and 30, inclusive, will be required, under penalty, to register.
     In cases where a man is ill or expects to be absent from his place of residence on registration day, he may apply at once to the clerk for registration.
     Not only is there a jail penalty attached to failure to register, but like penalty attaches to failure on the part of registration boards, or members of such boards, to perform the full duties required of them.
     When a person has registered he will receive a registration certificate.
     The instructions as to how to answer the questions which will be asked of persons registering, emphasize the fact that the government does not desire that any man shall increase the misery of war by failure to qualify for exemption where other people are dependent upon him solely for support, yet , on the other hand, it is also made clear that the government does not propose that men who are eligible to draft shall “hide behind petticoats or children.”

Governor Names Boards.
     The governor has appointed the county boards of registration. These boards will have charge of the registration in their respective counties. The state of Georgia and war department will hold them responsible. They must see to the appointment of registrars in each precinct in their county and look after the registration and making out of returns and reporting to the governor or adjutant general.
     Owning to the fact that some counties have no county physicians; some counties have as many as three and four, and others have county physicians who live many miles from the county site, Governor Harris could not appoint the county physicians as a class, but had to select physicians to serve each county without respect of their employment by the counties.
     The following list shows the boards for the respective counties. The names appearing in the following order:
     First, the sheriff, who will be executive officer of the board; second, the clerk of the superior court, who will be secretary or clerk of the board; third, the ordinary; fourth, the physician for the board.

The Board, once organized, saw to the appointment of registrars in each precinct in the county to administer the registrations. In Berrien County these registrars included:

Franklin Otis Baker, farmer, Alapaha, GA
Seaborn Jackson Baker, County School Superintendent, Nashville, GA;
William Arthur Bradford, farmer, Adel, GA ;
Eugene F. Bussey, merchant, Enigma, GA ;
James R. Carter, farmer, Adel or Greggs, GA;
John Samuel Carter, farmer, Lois, GA
James Griffin Connell, farmer, Massee, GA ;
William Riley Crumpton, merchant, Lenox, GA;
William Montieth Evarts, farmer, Adel, GA;
Lyman Franklin Giddens, barber, Ray City, GA ;
Vinter B. Godwin, general merchandise salesman, Lenox , GA;
George Washington Gray, farmer, Enigma, GA ;
John D. Gray, farmer, Alapaha, GA;
Frank Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA;
John T. Griffin, mail carrier, Nashville, GA;
Sims Griffin Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA
William Henry Griffin, farmer, Nashville, GA ;
Adolphus Brown Hammond, farmer, Enigma, GA ;
Charlie Brown Harris, farmer and merchant, Enigma, GA
Samuel J. Harwell, druggist, Adel, GA ;
Edward L. Ivey, naval stores operator, Cecil, GA ;
Joseph J. Knight, cross tie camp manager, Milltown (Lakeland), GA
Perry Thomas Knight, minister, Milltown (Lakeland), GA;
Henry Lee Lovett, farmer, Sparks, GA ;
Ralph George Luke, bank cashier, Cecil, GA;
Perry Newton Mathis, bookkeeper for J.N. Bray Lumber Co., Cecil, GA;
Hady Calvin McDermid, farmer and doctor, Sparks, GA;
William J. McKinney, dry goods merchant, Sparks, GA;
Malcom J. McMillan, retail merchant, Alapaha, GA
B. G. Moore;
Henry Moore, Alapaha, GA
Irwin Newton Moore, farmer, Nashville, GA ;
Luther Glenn Moore, student, Sparks, GA;
Richmon Newbern, farmer, Massee, GA ;
Charles. S. Parham, salesman and teacher, Nashville, GA;
William Manning Pafford, dry goods salesman, Milltown (Lakeland), GA ;
Arthur Henry Robinson, clergyman, Adel, GA ;
Thomas Morgan Rowan, farmer, Nashville, GA;
W. Rowe;
David Asa Sapp, turpentine operator, Ray City, GA ;
James David Cooper Smith, dry goods merchant, Tifton, GA
H.C. Smith;
Early Hamilton Spivey, farmer, Bannockburn, GA ;
O. Sutton;
James Henry Swindle, merchant, Ray City, GA ;
Charles Oscar Terry, druggist, Ray City, GA ;
William Edwin Tyson, teacher, Lenox, GA;

Penalties for giving false testimony to Exemption Boards were published in local newspapers.

Penalties for giving false testimony to Exemption Boards were published in local newspapers.

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Watson Grade News March 4, 1904

A continuation of a series of 1904 articles in the Tifton Gazette on the residents of “Watson Grade” by  anonymous author “Trixie.”  The Watson Grade community was just  northeast of Ray’s Mill, GA, near Empire Church where the Watson, Patten, Lee, Cook and Sirmans  families all farmed.   On March 4, 1904, the Watson Grade news included a report that Marcus Greene had seriously injured his hand.

Marcus Greene (1877-1935), farmer of Berrien County, GA. Image source: D. Jane Griffin

Marcus Greene (1877-1935), farmer of Berrien County, GA. Image source: D. Jane Griffin

1904-mar-4-watson-grade-news

Tifton Gazette
March 4, 1904

Watson Grade News.

         We are having some fine weather and the farmers are making good use of it.
         Last Sunday was regular service at Empire, and there was quite a crowd out.
         Mr. S. W. Watson, of Irwin was down last Friday to see his brother Mr. Jos. Watson, who has been suffering with cancer for sometime, but is fast improving.
         The advance on the price of guano seems to have nothing to do with the amount our farmers are buying, as many of them are failing to get their orders filled.
         Mr. Marcus Greene got one of his hands painfully hurt one day last week while riding on the Gray Lumber Co’s log-train. It is thought some of his fingers, if not his hand, will have to be amputated.
         Mr. Aaron Cook caught two trout in Ray’s mill pond last Thursday that weighed fifteen lbs.
         Mr. and Mrs. Joe Kirkland visited relatives in Clinch last Sunday.
         Mr. W. C. Patten has the nicest specimen of South Georgia stock raising to be seen in this section. He has two young colts in his lot that would be a credit to any stock raising country.
         A little girl arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. S.I. Watson a few days since.
         The school and Round Pond opened up last Monday under the management of Mr. Jno. Greene, of near Lois.

Trixie

Some notes on the personal mentions:

Mr. S.W. Watson
Samuel W. Watson (1863-1925), a son of Mark R Watson and Rachel Slaughter, was born and raised in the Rays Mill district (1144 Georgia Militia District).  S.W. Watson moved his family  to Irwin County some time before 1900, but returned to Berrien before 1910.

Marcus Greene
Marcus Greene, a farmer of Berrien County,  was a son of Marshall and Elizabeth Greene. He was a brother of Riley M. Greene, who would later be an investor in the Bank of Rays Mill.

Gray Lumber Company
The Gray Lumber Company had as a principal investor Benjamin B. Gray. Gray was a brother-in-law of the notorius outlaw Ben Furlong (c.1854-1886).

Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook
, a veteran of the Spanish American War, was a farmer and lifelong resident of the area.

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Kirkland
Joseph S. Kirkland and Glovie Ann Register were a young couple, married on January 21, 1903.  Their parents were residents of Clinch County.

William C. Patten
William C. Patten
(1849-1944) was a son of William Patten and Elizabeth “Betsey” Register. He was a Notary Public and Ex Officio Justice of the Peace.

Watson Girl
Jentie Watson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel I Watson, was born February 9, 1904.

John Greene
John Greene was a teacher in Berrien county in the early 1900s and taught at Round Pond School in 1904. He was a son of Houston Green and Ann E. Futch, of Lois, GA.  Round Pond  School was one of the common schools of the area. In 1906 Round Pond School was consolidated with Possum Trot and Guthrie School.

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Aubrey Sizemore

During WWII, Aubrey Sizemore served in the US Navy. Before the War he worked for Harveys Supermarket in Nashville, GA driving a “rolling store” on a route that served rural customers of Berrien County, GA.

Grave marker of Aubrey Sizemore, Mount Paron Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Alapaha, GA

Grave marker of Aubrey Sizemore, Mount Paron Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Alapaha, GA

Aubrey Sizemore and Maude Griner

Aubrey Sizemore and Maude Griner

Aubrey Sizemore in Navy Uniform

Aubrey Sizemore in Navy Uniform

Aubrey Sizemore - USNR

Aubrey Sizemore – USNR

John Guthrie Tells Story of Berrien Tiger

John Guthrie, folk musician and merchant of Ray City, GA relates the story of the Berrien Tiger.

John Elwood Guthrie (1911-1985) , folk musician and merchant of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

John Elwood Guthrie (1911-1985) , folk musician and merchant of Ray City, GA. Image courtesy Library of Congress.

The legendary Berrien Tiger was a large panther that attacked two Wiregrass victims in 1849, before the creation of Berrien county, GA.  Guthrie was a nephew of Hamp Guthrie, who was mauled by the big cat, and grandson of Martha Newbern Guthrie, who was an eyewitness.

John Elwood Guthrie was a son of Arren H. Guthrie and Elizabeth Lucinda “Lucy” Newbern Guthrie.  He moved with his family to Ray City in 1922 and attended the Ray City School. He and his parents and siblings resided on the the farm of his sister, Effie Guthrie Knight on Park Street.  As a boy he attended the Primitive Baptist Church but later attended the Ray City Methodist Church.  He married Madge Sellers and they made their home on North Street in Ray City.

John Elwood Guthrie (1911-1985)
Ray City, Georgia,
August 20, 1977

I was borned out on the Alapaha River.

You want me to tell you a little story about the Alapaha River?

OK. Now, believe it or not, now…if you want do a little research you can go back and find this story.

Now my grandmother…she was about ninety year old when she first began to come to our house. She’d sit in a rockin’ chair and all of us kids would gather up around her, and she would begin to tell us stories about the Civil War and things that happened back during that time.

Here’s a story…now you can believe it or not. Now, it did appear in the Valdosta paper, the Valdosta Times, and also in the Berrien Press. If you want to do a little research you can look it up. But, it happened.

A young boy back in those days, he went down on the Alapaha River a lookin’ for some hogs down there at was lost. And whiles he was down there they was some animal. Now, they said it was a tiger – now you can believe it or not – they said it was a tiger. But it appeared, now, in both these papers. They said it was a tiger.

He jumped on this boy’s back, and he clawed him up, and bit ‘im, and he thought he had killed ‘im. And he tried to drag ‘im back in the river swamps down there. But he’s too heavy. He couldn’t carry ‘im. Instead, he covered ‘im up with leaves. Covered ‘im up with leaves.

So this boy, when he came concious again, he was almost dead, but he got back ta house an he told his brothers and sisters and his parents an’ everything about it. Well, they formed a search party and they went down there lookin’ for this animal. They had their dogs, and their guns, and everything. That’s on Alapaha River, now, right over here.

When they got down to the swamp, the dogs, the first thing, they began to bark, you know, and run all down the river swamps. Well, it wasn’t very long before all them dogs came back, and their hair was standin’ right straight up on their backs, up there, and they just whimperin’, the dogs.

So, the men decided they’d go down there an’ see what had happened. Well, they went down there, and an ol’ uncle o’ mine, his name was Hamp -now, this is history, now if you don’t believe it you can go back and search. His name was Hamp.  And, he was a little bit behind all the rest. Well, this animal, whatever it was, jumped on his back. Jumped on his back and he began to claw ‘im an’ bite ‘im, an’ almost killed ‘im.

Some of the rest of the fellas in the search party looked around back there, and they saw what was happenin’ and they had a gun and they just shot whatever it was, if it was a tiger or whatever it was. They shot ‘im and killed ‘im. And when they killed ‘im, they had to pull his claws out of Uncle Hamp’s back, back there.

Now, this is history, now if you won’t believe it, all right. If you don’t, you can go back an’ search the records, and that’s part of the history.

Adler, T. A. & Guthrie, J. (1977) John Guthrie tells stories and plays guitar, Ray City, Georgia. Ray City, Georgia. [Audio] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afc1982010_afs20900/ .

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Harveys Supermarket Served Rural Residents with Rolling Stores

In the 1940s Aubrey Sizemore, of Nashville, GA, worked as a truck driver and salesman on a “rolling store” for Harveys Supermarket.

Aubrey Sizemore

Aubrey Sizemore (1910-1974)

Census records show that Aubrey Sizemore worked as a grocery salesman during that time period.  At the time of enumeration he was living with his wife, Maude Griner, and sons, Joe Sizemore and Bobby Sizemore in Nashville, GA. Also residing in the Sizemore household was his mother-in-law, Sarah Griner.

The 1940 census enumeration of Aubrey Sizemore confirms he worked as a grocery salesman.

The 1940 census enumeration of Aubrey Sizemore shows he worked as a grocery salesman.

Family members recall that Aubrey Sizemore drove a rolling store for Harveys Supermarket.

Harveys Supermarket, Nashville, GA. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.org

Harveys Supermarket, Nashville, GA. In addition to the location in Nashville, Harveys served rural residents with “rolling stores.” Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.org

The Harveys Supermarket chain was founded by J. M. and Iris Harvey in Nashville, GA in 1924. Their son, Joe H. Harvey, took over the chain in 1950.  The rolling stores served rural residents all over the area, including the families residing in the Ray City area.

Harveys Supermarket once operated a fleet of "rolling stores" - trucks that brought groceries and dry goods to shoppers in rural areas.

The Harveys Fleet
Harveys Supermarket once operated a fleet of “rolling stores” – trucks that brought groceries and dry goods to shoppers in rural areas.

The Rolling Store, once a celebrated fixture in town and country alike, has also been a victim of these dramatically changing times.

A rolling store is exactly what its name suggests.  Although mobile vendors have existed since well before the nation’s founding, these vendors were limited by the distance their horses or feet could carry them. That changed with the spread of the diesel engine in the early 20th century. Rural families who lacked access to these mechanized forms of rapid transportation could still only make it into town maybe three or four times in an entire year to do their essential shopping, but now the store could come to them, often in the form of a brightly painted truck or retrofitted bus that would stop at the same places at the same time each week.

Everything was available from a rolling store’s efficiently stocked shelves: fresh fruits and vegetables, bread, canned goods, wheat flour, lard, kerosene and tools, pre-made underwear, overalls, shirts. Come early Spring, the trucks would be stocked with Easter dresses for little girls, and come autumn, that same shelf space would be filled with school supplies for the new academic year. Even with their hodge-podge of goods, these moving stores could easily sell out of everything each time they hit the country roads, which could amount to some 9,000 to 10,000 pounds of goods in a single day.  — Time Magazine

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In Berrien County, GA Aubrey Sizemore drove a daily route of 50 miles or more, stopping at houses all along the way. Many of these people didn’t have any way of getting to town unless they walked. He would slow and blow the horn and people came running out.  He would stop and let up the sides of the truck where you could see in to see the merchandise. 

The children came running for the penny candy the rolling store carried. They sold little syrup candies wrapped in wax paper.  The chewy candy was made from sugar cane and had a distinct taste. 

Some of the women would ask for goods and if the driver didn’t have them on the rolling truck he would bring them on the next round.

If you had something you wanted to barter, if you had a chicken, or eggs, or butter you could trade out for goods or for a “due bill” – a promissory note you could use for store credit at Harveys store in Nashville or from the rolling store. 

The Harveys rolling store had groceries and some dry goods.  You could buy needle and thread and other sewing supplies. You could buy yard goods – cloth – in three yard bundles.  A woman could make a dress from three yards.  Anything Harveys had in their store in Nashville you could find on the rolling store.   – Sizemore Recollections

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Many a rolling store’s motto was also “We Buy Anything, We sell Everything,” meaning rural families could also barter with the store, trading “eggs, chickens and pecans” for items like flour, shoes, or chewing tobacco. As a result, in addition to the children’s joyful cries of “Here it comes! Here it comes!” and the honking of the store’s horn, a municipality could often tell if a rolling store was on its way by the cacophony of squawking emanating from the overloaded chicken coops on the top or back of the truck. (This bartering policy also meant that many a child raided their family’s chicken house the morning of the rolling store’s scheduled arrival for an egg or two to exchange for a stick of gum or a piece of candy.)  While those who grew up running to greet the drivers of rolling stores remember these enterprises with great fondness, these endeavors could not withstand the rise of the personal automobile. – Time Magazine

 

During WWII, Aubrey Sizemore entered the US Navy.

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Ray City Christmas 1959

Rossie Futch celebrates Christmas 1959 with his grand daughter Lee, and her new baby doll.

Rossie Futch and his granddaughter on Christmas Day, 1959 at Tallahassee, FL

Rossie Futch and his granddaughter on Christmas Day, 1959.

Rossie Futch (1899-1968) was a native of Berrien County and a resident of Ray City, GA for 50 years.  His second wife was Lessie Guthrie Miley.  After 1950, the Futch Residence was at 406 J0nes Street (now 507 Jones Street).

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Death of Ben Furlong ~ Was it Suicide?

Ben Furlong (circa 1854-1886), Desperado of Berrien County, GA

As Halloween approaches we revisit the scene of Ben Furlong, who was perhaps  most famous ghost ever to haunt Berrien County.

After the 1886 death of Ben Furlong some said his ghost still haunted the scene of his final, heinous crime. In life, Ben Furlong may have been Berrien County’s  most notorious outlaw.  Furlong, a sawmill man when he wasn’t on the bottle, frequented the communities along the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad – Alapaha, Vanceville and Sniff.   He was a wife beater and a murderer wanted for dozens of criminal charges. His infamous deeds were published around the globe.

Furlong died on Friday, September 24, 1886 from an overdose of laudanum, also known as tincture of opium. The compound was commonly available in the drug stores of Berrien County and elsewhere for just five cents a bottle.

Laudanum bottle

Laudanum bottle

Certainly by  the time of Furlong’s death, the dangerous potency of opioids was well known. Still, some thought Furlong’s laudanum overdose was accidental.

The prevailing opinion in Alapaha, GA, the community that perhaps knew Furlong best, was that he intended to take his own life, either out of a guilty conscience or to escape the hangman.

The October 2, 1886 edition of the Alapaha Star examined the question:

 

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star, October 2, 1886 questions death of Ben Furlong

Alapaha Star
October 2, 1886

Was it Suicide?

    There is a difference of opinion as to whether B. W. Furlong committed suicide, but the preponderating belief is that he did. The murder of the colored man, the closing of his mill by his creditors and the effects of a severe spell of drinking were amply sufficient to —- —– —-perate step of his life – that of self-destruction.
    It is reported that he drank two bottles of laudanum Thursday night, about twenty hours before he died, and that when he sank into the last sleep, his breathing indicated poisoning. Every effort was made to arouse him. He was walked about, slapped and rubbed vigorously, but the seal of death was upon him, and he breathed his last about four hours after he fell asleep.
    We are satisfied that Furlong while temporarily insane from the causes we have mentioned, took his own life.

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Berrien Minute Men On the Square

Before the Civil War, some 32 percent of the population of Lowndes and Berrien County, Georgia were enslaved African-Americans.  In neighboring Thomas County, 51 percent of the people were enslaved. These numbers paled in comparison with the slave population of the coastal counties, where as much as 86 percent of the population toiled in bondage on the sea island cotton and rice plantations of Georgia’s tidewater.  In all, the State of Georgia estimated its citizens owned  three billion dollars worth of slaves.

Almost immediately after the election of Abraham Lincoln,  Levi J. Knight formed the Berrien Minute Men, a company of 103 volunteer infantrymen. Levi J. Knight, original pioneer settler of Ray City, GA was the military leader of the community and a slave owner. He had served as a captain of the local militia company in the Indian Wars, and as a general in the state militia.

The Berrien Minute Men drilled and paraded in the local communities before being called up for deployment. By May, 1861 newspapers reported, “the county is alive with volunteers, and all eager for a fight with the Abolitionists. Our citizens have liberally contributed funds to equip and prepare for service the poor men connected with the companies, and also to supply with provisions and clothing the destitute families of those who shall enter the service.

In 1888 a visitor to Nashville, GA met with surviving veterans of the Berrien Minute Men. A brief passage on their reminiscences was printed in the Atlanta Constitution.

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA

Berrien Minute Men in formation at Nashville, GA
About the Illustration: The Berrien Minute Men of the Georgia 29th Regiment in an 1861 pre-deployment ceremony at the Nashville, Georgia courthouse square. The mounted officer depicts Captain Levi J. Knight (1803-1870) a prominent leader in the area and retired major general of the Georgia militia. The building in the background represents the Berrien County Courthouse, the only known structure from Civil War era Nashville, GA which is documented in photographs. The balcony shown on the courthouse was actually not present until the building was converted to a hotel in 1898. Illustrator: Alan H. Archambault. Image courtesy of Jim Griffin.

The writer of the 1888 news clipping recalled the company of men in their uniforms on the courthouse square.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

April 6,1888 Atlanta Constitution. A visitor to Nashville, GA recalls the formation of the Berrien Minute Men during the Civil War.

Atlanta Constitution
Friday April 6, 1888. Pg. 2.

A Brave Band of Men.

Berrien Correspondence Quitman, Ga., Herald.  May the brain that dictates and the hand that indites this sentence be paralyzed if we ever forget our friends and comrades in the days that tried men’s souls. From this county went forth the “Berrien Minute Men” to battle for the lost cause. They were the finest body of men we ever saw in line, and they belonged to the old Twenty-ninth Georgia. Twenty-five or thirty of them on the right of the company were over six feet high. They wore a grey uniform, cut on the claw-hammer style, with a black breast, and trimmed with large gilt buttons. They were a dangerous looking set, and truer, braver, manlier hearts never beat beneath the confederate grey.

Where are these stalwart forms now? We did not see them on the courthouse square at Nashville, where they once mustered so bravely.

Alas! nearly all of this gallant band have passed over the river and are resting under the shade of the trees. We met Henry Knight, John Knight, Lacy Lastinger, Jim Roberts, Jack Parrish, Frank Parrish, and a few others that we knew in the long ago, and we were welcomed, aye, thrice welcomed.

 

About the Courthouse

According to the Berrien Historical Foundation, the Berrien Courthouse was a two-story wooden structure that served the county’s judicial needs from 1858 until around 1897.  The courthouse occupied the square in Nashville, on lands purchased from pioneer, Daniel Griner, and chosen by a commission appointed by the Judge of the Inferior Court.

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

New Hansell Hotel. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

When the present brick courthouse was to be constructed, the two story wood structure was purchased by Dr. William Bryan Goodman, who moved it to the northeast side of the square and converted it into a hotel.

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

September 20, 1901 Tifton Gazette reported a new hotel in Nashville, GA

Tifton Gazette
September 20, 1901

At the entertainment given by Dr. and Mrs. W. B. Goodman in Nashville Thursday evening last, at which a voting contest for a name for the new Nashville hotel was held, about $20 was realized for the Nashville Methodist church fund. The name “Hotel Hansell,” was selected, in honor of the Southern circuit’s veteran judge.

October 25, 1901 Tifton Gazette reports Hotel Hansell under new management.

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An Otranto Funeral in Belfast

An Otranto Funeral in Belfast

Perhaps no county paid a greater toll in WWI than Berrien County, Georgia. Twenty-three of her young men perished in the sinking of the H.M. S. Otranto just weeks before the war ended.

When survivors of the Otranto shipwreck  were ferried by the H.M.S. Mounsey to Belfast, Ireland  the American Red Cross was there waiting for their arrival.  James Marvin DeLoach,  with many Ray City GA, connections, and James Grady Wright of Adel, GA, Henry Elmo DeLaney of Nashville, GA and Ange Wetherington  were among nearly 450 men who had managed to leap from the rails of the Otranto to the deck of the rescue ship Mounsey and were landed in Belfast.

A hundred and fifty of the survivors  had been badly injured in the jump, the injuries ranging from split skulls to broken ribs, broken legs and the like.  On the decks of the dangerously overloaded Mounsey, the men clung for their lives to whatever handholds they could grab.  Many suffered from exposure on the trip to Belfast, some perished. Others contracted pneumonia and died after reaching Belfast.

Most of the hundreds of soldiers who were left behind on the Otranto perished in the sea. A scant 17 managed to survive the swim to the rocky coast of Islay, Scotland, among them Early Stewart of Berrien County, GA. For the hundreds of dead who washed ashore, two funerals were held on Islay.

A Third funeral for American soldiers from the Otranto occurred at Belfast, Ireland on October 11, 1918. Seventeen of the men of the Otranto were interred in the city cemetery in Belfast, victims of the Otranto Disaster and men who had died from Pneumonia after reaching Belfast.   Belfast stopped in respect as the funeral procession passed from the Victoria barracks, through Royal Ave, to the City Cemetery. Everywhere the streets were crowded with people who gathered to pay tribute to the honored dead. The flag-draped coffins were carried on open hearses, two on each conveyance, with a guard of honor composed of British soldiers marching alongside.  There were many floral wreaths, sent by the American Red Cross, the Belfast Care Committee, and other Belfast civic organizations. The band of mourners who marched behind the coffins included the Lord Mayor of Belfast, the American Consul, and representatives of the American and British army and navy,  the Red Cross, and various local civic organizations.

An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, a public funeral was held in Belfast for twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto disaster, and men who died from pneumonia after being landed in Ireland from a troopship. The march through the city, from the Victoria barracks to the City Cemetary. Everywhere the streets were crowded with people who had gathered to pay tribute to the honored dead. The coffins were carried on open hearses, two on each conveyance, with a guard of honor composed of British soldiers, marching beside the coffins, each of which was covered with an American flag http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10185a

An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, twelve American soldier victims of the Otranto Disaster and men who had died from Pneumonia after being landed from a troopship were buried in the City Cemetery. The photograph shows the funeral procession passing through Royal Ave. The wreaths shown in the picture were chiefly gifts of the Belfast Care Committee of the American Red Cross http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10185a

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An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, a public funeral was held in Belfast for twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto disaster, and men who died from pneumonia after being landed in Ireland from a troopship. The march through the city, from the Victoria barracks to the City Cemetary. Everywhere the streets were crowded with people who had gathered to pay tribute to the honored dead. The coffins were carried on open hearses, two on each conveyance, with a guard of honor composed of British soldiers, marching beside the coffins, each of which was covered with an American flag http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10184a

An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, a public funeral was held in Belfast for twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto disaster, and men who died from pneumonia after being landed in Ireland. The march through the city, from the Victoria barracks to the City Cemetery. Everywhere the streets were crowded with people who had gathered to pay tribute to the honored dead. The coffins were carried on open hearses, two on each conveyance, with a guard of honor composed of British soldiers, marching beside the coffins, each of which was covered with an American flag
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10184a

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British soldiers escorting American flag draped coffins http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01511a

British soldiers escorting American flag draped coffins
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01511a

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An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto and also several pneumonia cases, were buried in the City Cemetery. The band of mourners who marched behind the coffins included representatives of the American and British army and navy, of the Red Cross, and various local civic organizations. There was also the Lord Mayor, the American Consul and others<br /> http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10186a

An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto and also several pneumonia cases, were buried in the City Cemetery. The band of mourners who marched behind the coffins included representatives of the American and British army and navy, of the Red Cross, and various local civic organizations. There was also the Lord Mayor, the American Consul and others
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10186a

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An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto and also several pneumonia cases, were buried in the City Cemetery. British soldiers formed the guard of honor for the coffins, as they were carried through the principal streets of Belfast. The photograph shows the procession entering the gates of the cemetery http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10187a

An American military funeral in Belfast, Ireland. On Oct. 11, twelve American soldiers, victims of the Otranto and also several pneumonia cases, were buried in the City Cemetery. British soldiers formed the guard of honor for the coffins, as they were carried through the principal streets of Belfast. The photograph shows the procession entering the gates of the cemetery
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10187a

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<br /> An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Reading the funeral service for twelve American soldiers in the City Cemetery. The officiating clergymen were the Rev. William Maguire and the Rev. Father O'Kelly, CC. Eight of the soldiers belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, three to the Methodist church, one to the Baptist. American and British army officers and American Red Cross officers were the official chief mourners<br /> http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10188a


An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Reading the funeral service for twelve American soldiers in the City Cemetery. The officiating clergymen were the Rev. William Maguire and the Rev. Father O’Kelly, CC. Eight of the soldiers belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, three to the Methodist church, one to the Baptist. American and British army officers and American Red Cross officers were the official chief mourners
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10188a

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An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Burying a Coffin. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01512

An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Burying a Coffin. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01512

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An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. The buglers sound the last salute to the dead. The graves are those of twelve American soldiers, part of them victims of the Otranto disaster, the remainder, men who died of pneumonia, in Belfast hospitals, after being landed from a troop ship http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10189a

An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. The buglers sound the last salute to the dead. The graves are those of American soldiers from the sinking troopship HMS Otranto who died of injuries received in the rescue, or of pneumonia in Belfast hospitals, after being landed.
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10189a

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An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Firing squad from the British army (Northumberland Fusiliers) fires the last salute at the graveside. The funeral was of twenty American soldiers on Oct. 11. Part of the men were victims of the Otranto disaster, others were men who died of pneumonia in Belfast hospitals shortly after arriving in Europe http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10190a

An American military funeral at Belfast, Ireland. Firing squad from the British army (Northumberland Fusiliers) fires the last salute at the graveside. The funeral was of twenty American soldiers on Oct. 11. Part of the men were victims of the Otranto disaster, others were men who died of pneumonia in Belfast hospitals shortly after arriving in Europe http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10190a

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A Third funeral for American soldiers from the Otranto occurred at Belfast, Ireland. The men interred in the city cemetery in Belfast, there were many floral wreaths, sent by the Red Cross and by Belfast civic organizations. On this occasion, one of the finest was inscribed “A token of esteem and sympathy from their comrades of the British army” http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10121a

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Graves in Belfast, Ireland, of American soldiers who died of Pneumonia after being rescued from the ill-fated troopship Otranto. Seventeen of the men of the Otranto are buried in this plot in the City Cemetery, Belfast. The officers are shown in front of the graves are Lieut. Horace O'Higgins of New York and Lieut. R.E. Condon of Kansas City, two of the most indefatigable workers in the task of relief and recovery after the disaster<br /> http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10120a

Graves in Belfast, Ireland, of American soldiers who died of Pneumonia after being rescued from the ill-fated troopship Otranto. Seventeen of the men of the Otranto are buried in this plot in the City Cemetery, Belfast. The officers are shown in front of the graves are Lieut. Horace O’Higgins of New York and Lieut. R.E. Condon of Kansas City, two of the most indefatigable workers in the task of relief and recovery after the disaster
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.10120a

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City Cemetery, Belfast, Ireland; American soldiers graves http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01521a

City Cemetery, Belfast, Ireland; American soldiers graves
http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/anrc.01521a

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General Biddle thanks Belfast for honors paid to victims of the Otranto Disaster

General Biddle thanks Belfast for honors paid to victims of the Otranto Disaster

New York Times
October 29, 1918

BIDDLE THANKS BELFAST.

General Acknowledges the Funeral Honors to Otranto Victims.

Special Cable to the New York Times.

Belfast, Oct. 28 – Major Gen Biddle, writing to the Secretary of the Belfast Chamber of Trade, has expressed deep appreciation for the many kindly acts shown by Belfast citizens to American survivors of the Otranto. The letter says:

“Reports reaching us of the splendid funeral honors accorded to our dead soldiers in Belfast indicate that your authorities and citizens have been more than kind. Thanks also are due to those Belfst ladies and others who sent floral tributes and in other ways showed such a generous and sympathetic spirit.”

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Death of Mack Talley Bradford

Death of Mack Talley Bradford (1874-1919)

Mack Talley Bradford was a son of Thomas Bradford and Martha Connell. His father was a native of Lowndes County, GA but as a young man had moved to Sumter County, Florida.  After serving in the Florida Cavalry in the Civil War, his father returned to Berrien County, GA where Mack Talley Bradford was born on July 7, 1874.

Mack Talley Bradford grew up on his father’s one-horse farm in the 1157th Georgia Militia District, Berrien County, GA. As a man, he was of medium height and build, with blue eyes and black hair.

On September 29, 1901, Mack Talley Bradford married Maggie R. Gaskins in Berrien County, GA. She was a daughter of Fisher H. Gaskins.  The marriage was performed by H. B. Peeples.

Mack Talley Bradford and Maggie R. Gaskins marriage certificate, September 29, 1901, Berrien County, GA

Mack Talley Bradford and Maggie R. Gaskins marriage certificate, September 29, 1901, Berrien County, GA

Mack and Maggie Bradford made their home on a farm in Connells Mill District on the Nashville & Valdosta Road, not far from the farms of Flemming B. Gaskins and Harmon Gaskins.

Children of Mack Talley Bradford and Margaret R. “Maggie” Gaskins

  1. James Albert Bradford (1902 – 1990)
  2. Leon Bradford (1905 – 1962)
  3. Cora Bradford Strawder (1907 – 1994)
  4. Perry E. Bradford (1910 – 1936)
  5. W Henry Bradford (1912 – 1913)
  6. Olan Jackson Bradford (1914 – 1962)

Mack served as a traverse juror at spring ad-term, 1905, Berrien superior court, which met on the second Monday in June.  M.T. Bradford was a member of Woodmen of the World, a Mason, and a  southern Baptist. In 1909 Mack Talley Bradford attended the Program Union Meeting of the Southern District Mell Baptist Association held at Staunton church, January 29-31. The Saturday morning sermon at that meeting was delivered by Reverend Perry Thomas Knight. Mack Talley Bradford delivered the Sunday morning Devotional.

M.T. Bradford  was among the Ray City investors who received a State Bank Charter  to open the Bank of Ray’s Mill. The bank opened for business on August 14, 1911.  The principal bankers were Benjamin Perry Jones, President of the Valdosta Bank and Trust, and Vice President Clarence L. Smith.  The other investors were J.S. Swindle, J.H. Swindle,  W.H.E. Terry, Riley M. Green, and J. F. Sutton, all of Berrien county, and Charles Lee Jones and  J.B. Griffin, of Lowndes county. The Bank of Ray’s Mill  would later be known as the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

On September 12, 1918, Mack Bradford registered for the draft in Nashville, GA.  He gave his address as RFD Route #2, Ray City, GA.

Mack Talley Bradford, WWI draft registration, Berrien County, GA

Mack Talley Bradford, WWI draft registration, Berrien County, GA

 

Tifton Gazette August 29, 1919 reports death of Mack Talley Bradford.

Tifton Gazette August 29, 1919 reports death of Mack Talley Bradford.

Tifton Gazette
August 29, 1919

Fall From Ladder Kills Berrien Farmer

Mack Bradford a young Berrien county farmer is dead from injuries that he received a day or so ago when he fell from a ladder. Mr. Bradford did not know his injuries were serious and in a short time after the accident he walked out into a field where he had some men at work. Later he complained of feeling badly and sat down to rest. Not feeling any better he sen his small boy who was with him to a nearby branch for some water. When the boy returned he found his father in a dying condition and before he could summon help Mr. Bradford was dead.

Grave of Mack Talley Bradford (1874-1919), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

Grave of Mack Talley Bradford (1874-1919), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA

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