James Dewey Calhoun was born about 1904 near Ray City, GA. His grave marker in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA gives his birth date as June 22, 1904, but his Social Security records listed his date of birth as June 22, 1901. Census records place his date of birth variously at about 1902, 1904, or 1907. Based on the research of family members, the 1901 date is probably the most accurate. He was a son of Samuel Augustus Calhoun and Rachel Bullard, and a brother of Joseph Burton Calhoun. The image detail below, of James Dewey Calhoun and his father, is believed to date from around 1907.
James Dewey Calhoun first appears in the census records in 1910, enumerated as “Dewey.” He was one of nine children in his parent’s household at Ray City, GA. Samuel’s mother was Rachel Bullard Calhoun, a daughter of Luvellia Ray and Mack Bullard.
In the 1920s the Calhouns were living at Ray City, GA where Dewey’s father rented a place on the Valdosta & Ray City Road. Dewey had a common school education, but by age 12 he was working on the Calhoun farm assisting his father with farm labor along with his brothers. Just around the corner from the Calhoun place was the farm of Elias M. “Hun” Knight, businessman of Ray City and owner of the Mayhaw Lake Resort.
James Dewey Calhoun married Mary Elizabeth Brogdon on Saturday, November 24, 1928 in Berrien County, GA. The ceremony was performed by John G. Hall, Justice of the Peace. Dewey was 21 and Mary was 18 at the time of their marriage. She was a daughter of Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley. Like Dewey, she had a common school education through 7th grade.
After marriage Dewey and Mary Calhoun made their home in the Lois precinct of the 1329 Georgia Militia District (Connell’s Mill District), where they began raising crops and children. Dewey rented a farm next door to the 260 acre farm of Minerva Futch and John L. Allen. The Allen place (formerly the farm of Jehu Patten) was on land Lot 454 of the 10th land district (see map), located just southwest of Ray City, near the farms of Francis Marion Shaw, Lacy Shaw, and Jesse Shelby Shaw (see http://www.audubon4tet.com/FMS/21_John_Levi_Allen.pdf). Lon Fender, one of the big timber men and turpentine operators of the Wiregrass, was also renting a farm nearby. The census taker who visited the Calhoun family to take their enumeration in 1930 was Perry Lee Pittman.
By the 1940s Dewey and Mary had moved their family to Alapha, GA where they rented a home on “Nashville and Nashville” road for $5.00 a month.
The employment data from the 1940 census shows Dewey was working 24 hours a week for the WPA while Mary kept home and the children attended school. In late 1938 the Work Projects Administration (WPA) began construction of a gymnasium for the public school in Alapaha, GA.
The Work Projects Administration was one of FDR’s New Deal programs, and the census asked if anyone in the household during the week of March 24–30, 1940, was at work on, or assigned to, public emergency work projects conducted by the WPA, the NYA, the CCC, or state or local work relief agencies. The WPA, established May 6, 1935, developed programs to move unemployed workers from relief to jobs. The WPA workers, among other things, rebuilt the national infrastructure, wrote guides to the 48 states, worked in the arts and theater, and assisted with disaster relief. The NYA, established under the WPA, gave part-time jobs to high school and college students to earn money to continue their education. The CCC, created March 31, 1933, employed men aged 18–25 in conservation work in the national parks and forests. http://1940census.archives.gov/about/
Other Work Projects Administration (WPA) projects in Berrien county include an annex added to the west side of the Berrien County Courthouse in 1938. In 1940, WPA workers assisted with the construction of the lunchroom at the Ray City School. Bill Outlaw described a WPA project digging a ditch in Buck Bay, then called Beaver Dam Bay, on the W.H. Outlaw farm previously known as the Jerry S. “Buck” Sutton Old Home place (See Bill Outlaw’s Georgia Centennial Farm application for the W. H. Outlaw farm for interesting commentary on Berrien County farm life over the last 150 years). WPA instructors were also involved with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp at Homerville, GA where Ray City and Berrien County men were working.
Later the Calhouns were back at Nashville, GA. Census data beyond 1940 has not yet been released, but school photos from the 1950s show Mary and Dewey Calhoun’s children continued to attend at the Nashville public schools.
Children of Mary Elizabeth Brogdon 1909 – 2002 and James Dewey Calhoun (1901-1980)
- Charles Rex Calhoun 1929 – 2000
- Martha Virginia Calhoun 1933 – 2005
- James Dewey “J.D.” Calhoun 1937 – 2013
- Howard Vinson Calhoun 1939 – 1979
- Densil Calhoun 1944 – 2008
Class photos from 1954 show Densil Calhoun was attending school at Nashville Elementary.
The 1972 obituary of Joe B. Calhoun mentions that his brother, Dewey Calhoun was still residing in Nashville, GA.
James Dewey Calhoun died November 3, 1980. He was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. His widow, Mary Brogdon Calhoun, continued to reside at Nashville, GA but was a member of the Baptist Church in Ray City. Mary died in 2002 and was buried next to her husband at Beaver Dam Cemetery.
for May 6, 2002
NASHVILLE — Mary Calhoun, 96, of Nashville, died May 5, 2002, in the Memorial Convalescent Center of Adel. Born on Aug. 26, 1905, to the late Thomas Brogdon and Blancett Swilley, she was a homemaker and member of First Baptist Church of Ray City. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dewey Calhoun, who died in 1980, and two sons, Howard and Rex Calhoun. Survivors include one daughter, Martha Gurganious of Nashville; two sons, Densol Calhoun of Nashville and J. D. Calhoun of Jackson; 11 grandchildren; 12 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren. Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, 2002, in the chapel of Lovein Funeral Home with the Rev. Clarence Luke and the Rev. Fred Hesters officiating. Burial will follow in Beaver Dam Cemetery. Visitation is today after 4 p.m. with the family receiving friends from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. — Lovein Funeral Home.
- Family of Gus Calhoun, Berrien County, GA
- John Boyett (1865-1938) ~ Ray City Farmer
- The Marriage of Joe Calhoun and Lue Annie Boyett
- Wed under the Great Comet of 1882
- Moving on Up: John and Mary Jane Boyett’s Retouched Portrait
- Calhoun Obituaries
- Joseph Burton Calhoun ~ WWI Soldier
- Ruth Boyette Married Dillard Markham During WWII