Lessie & Rossie Futch at Home on Possum Creek

Lessie Guthrie and Rossie Futch were long time residents of Ray City, GA.  In the 1940s they lived for a short time in a small home on Possum Creek Road.  This house was located on the farm property of  Jim and Stell Swindle.

L to R: Lucinda Elizabeth Guthrie, Rossie Futch, Lessie Guthrie Futch.  Rossie and Lessie lived at this house on Possum Creek road near Ray City, GA for a short time in the 1940s.

L to R: Lucinda Elizabeth Guthrie, Rossie Futch, Lessie Guthrie Futch. Rossie and Lessie lived at this house on Possum Creek road near Ray City, GA for a short time in the 1940s. Later they lived in town on Jones Street,Ray City.

Family of John David Miley

John David Miley, subject of earlier posts ( see The Marriage of John David Miley and Lessie Lee Guthrie ), married Lessie Guthrie of Ray City, GA.  The Guthries were early pioneer families of Berrien County, and many of the family connection still reside in Ray City.  John David Miley was a son of Narcissus Rouse and Bryant Miley. The Mileys were a prominent family in the local history of Hahira, Lowndes County, GA.  Hahira is located about twelve miles west of Ray City.

Family of John David Miley, Hahira, GA. Circa 1906. Left to Right: Bryant Luther Miley, Berry James "B.J." Miley, Reba Miley, John David Miley, Narcissus Rouse Miley.

Family of John David Miley, Hahira, GA. Circa 1906. Left to Right: Bryant Luther Miley, Berry James “B.J.” Miley, Reba Miley, John David Miley, Narcissus Rouse Miley.

Bryant Miley operated a grocery & butcher shop in Hahira. Later, after Bryant’s death in 1940, Narcissus had her own little grocery in town.  B.J. Miley became a big tobacco trader, and a Hahira street one block south of Main bears his name.

Grave marker of Bryant and Narcissus Miley, Shiloh Methodist Church cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.

Grave marker of Bryant and Narcissus Miley, Shiloh Methodist Church cemetery, Lowndes County, GA.


Samuel G. Guthrie of Ray City, GA

Sam Guthrie

Samuel G. Guthrie of Ray City, GA with an unidentified friend.

Samuel G. Guthrie, of Ray City, GA, photographed in Florida with an unidentified friend.

Samuel G. Guthrie Dies in Brunswick; Burial at Ray City

      Samuel G. Guthrie, well known and highly regarded Ray City and Berrien county man, passed away Tuesday, January 9, in the Brunswick Hospital following a heart attack. He was 44 years of age.
     A son of Mrs. Lucy Newbern Guthrie and the late A. H. Guthrie of Ray City, the deceased was born and reared in Berrien county and had spent practically all his life here. He had lived in Brunswick about one year where he held a position in the shipyards.  He was a member of the Baptist church.
     Funeral services were held at the New Ramah church in Ray City Wednesday afternoon, January 10, at 4:30 o’clock, conducted by Elder Charlie Vickers of Nashville, and Elder Orville Knight of Valdosta.  Burial was in the church cemetery.
     A choir composed of N. H. Harper, Mrs. J. I. Clements Sr., Mrs. H. P. Clements and Mrs. Jack Cribb sang two songs, “Asleep In Jesus,” and “Rock of Ages.”
     Pall-bearers were Carroll V. Guthrie, June Eroll Purvis, Emmis Purvis, Archie Peacock, Rudolph Moore and A. T. King.
     Surviving besides his mother, there are four brothers and five sisters,  June Guthrie and Herman Guthrie of Jacksonville, Fla., P. T. Guthrie of Lakeland, and John Guthrie of Ray City, Mrs. J. R. King of Nashville, Mrs. Marvin Purvis, Mrs. O. A. Knight, Mrs. Rossie Futch, and Miss Bettye Guthrie of Ray City.

Samuel G. Guthrie (1900-1945), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Samuel G. Guthrie (1900-1945), New Ramah Cemetery, Ray City, GA.


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Eyewitness Accounts of the Berrien Tiger

The legendary Berrien Tiger was a large panther that mauled two Wiregrass victims in 1849 (before Berrien county was actually created). The first victim was Jim Hightower (aka James Stewart), step-son of  Thomas B. Stewart.  One of the eyewitnesses who saw the carcass of the Berrien Tiger was Martha Newbern Guthrie,  who was mother to generations of Berrien County residents, and who spent time in her final years living with her son Arrin’s family at Ray City, GA.  Her husband and brother-in-law were among the men who hunted down and killed the beast, after it attacked a young boy. Other stories of the Berrien Tiger (Early Account of the Berrien Tiger, 1849,  1849 Adventures With A Panther in Berrien County, GA) were posted over the past week. The account below, originally published in 1923 nearly 75 years after the event, provides additional details (or embellishments?) not included in early versions of the tale.

[When the Wiregrass Pioneers] were begining to realize a sense of relief from Indian depredations but not from the depredations of wild beasts, there occurred a thrilling encounter between a magnificent specimen of that species of felines known as a tiger and a party of men which encount- —– does when trying to decide whe- ——— only encounter of its kind in all this section originally known as Irwin County.

Setting in Mud Creek

It was back somewhere about the year 1848 and the scene of the episode was in what is now Clinch County but at that time Lowndes near the Alapaha River at what is known locally as the Mud Creek bridge, or “Indian Ford” as it was then known.

In that neighborhood lived Samuel and Hamp Guthrie, Alfred Herring, Jesse Vickery and a man by the name of Stewart (Editor’s note This man was Thomas B. Stewart, born 1798 in Virginia and a blacksmith by trade, and he  lived neighbor to Hamp Guthrie) and also Green Akins and others of the hardy pioneers who were in — swamp, immediately striking wind  —try from the wild man and the wild animals and making it a fit dwelling place to live. Stewart had a step-son named Jim Hightower. This boy was about 14 years old. He had had the misfortune to get his right hand mangled while feeding an old-fashioned wooden roller cane-mill by feeding his hand into the mill along with the cane when a very small boy, and when it healed up so far as I can learn, was the — of distorted and crumpled up stub of bones, consequently he had very little use of that member in any of the tasks he had to perform. The accident occurred at the home of Green Akins and Mrs. Akins who were the parents of Mrs. Jerry May who is now living about five miles east of Nashville. Mrs. Akins released the little fellow from his awful position by first stopping the horse, loosing him from the lever, backing the mill off the boy’s hand and releasing it.  It was impossible to obtain the service of a physician in that section and with the very best skill which Mrs. Akins could master she dressed the boy’s hand in her own way.

Hunts Hog, Flushes Tiger

This boy, Jim Hightower, in company with a little half brother was sent out one morning early to look for some hogs down by the river swamp. Their faithful dog accompanied them. Hunting along beside the swamp they were startled by the strange acts of the dog which had been running about, sometimes in the bushes, sometimes outside when suddenly like something half-dead with fright the dog came tearing out of the bushes and cowered down at the feet of his young masters and no persuasion of any sort could avail to get that dog to return to the swamp. The boys knew not what to think except that they surmised the dog was overcome with cowardice and only needed to have his masters near to encourage him in the face of supposed danger; and with this thought in mind no doubt, the boys proceeded on down nearer the swamp at the place where the dog emerged, at the same time setting the dog on and encouraging him in every way they could to go on in. But nothing they could do could avail to get that dog into the swamp ahead of them.

 While they were thus engaged and while they were pushing their way a little further on into the low bushes, the elder boy being somewhat ahead, they were struck with terror to see a great tawny red body rise out of the bushes with a sudden bound, alighting on Jim’s shoulders and bearing him to the ground. The small boy immediately took to his heels accompanied by his dog, leaving Jim to the fate to which the tiger would subject him.

 Alarm Given

Going by a neighboring house which was nearer than his home the small boy gave the alarm, the family being seated at breakfast. Quickly the man of the house ran to Stewart’s and told the family that a tiger had killed Jim. The news was spread from house to house as fast as possible and the dogs were on their way down to the swamp to make a search, expecting to find the boy Jim torn to pieces or probably eaten. Their guns consisted of the old-fashioned muzzle-loading shot gun, some of which had flint-locks, but in addition each man was armed with Bowie knives with which to fight if it should come to a hand-to-hand struggle.

When they arrived at the place where the small boy said the attack was made, there was the blood, the signs of the struggle, the leaves and straw where the victim had evidently been covered up but no trace of the boy or his clothing, except his little cap, could be found and except the blood.

Dogs Encounter Tiger

The dogs were set off into the swamp, immediately striking wind of the game and began raising a mighty din of yelps and the party knew that they were right on the animal. Immediately, however, the anticipatory sounds of the baying changed to death howls, and the party knew that their faithful dogs were being killed.

Three of the men, Hamp Guthrie, Alf Herring, and Jess Vickery, agreed to stand by each other until death and go into the swamp to the relief of their dogs. Armed with their guns and Bowie Knives they pushed their way as fast as they could through the swamp to where the battle between beast and dogs was raging, and were horrified to see that one or two of the dogs had already been killed and others were being mangled as fast as they came in reach of the in position in the center of the pack of dogs and in such close proximity that a shot could not be made without danger of wounding or killing a dog. Hamp Guthrie, being of a daring and intrepid character, somewhat braver than the other men, decided to get into the fight and tackle the beast with his knife but he made the others promise to stand by him and help him out of the danger to the last. The animal didn’t wait however for Guthrie to reach it. Releasing its hold on the dogs it leaped with a mighty bound upon the shoulders of Guthrie and bore him to the ground. There, in a perfect pandemonium of shrieks, growls, and yelps it held him while it proceeded to tear his flesh with teeth and claws until Jess Vickery ran up an holding the muzzle of his gun to its side, caught a moment when he could discharge his gun without danger to Guthrie, and drove the whole load from his gun through its body. The shot however, failed to make the animal release its hold. He then clubbed his gun and broke it over the animal’s body, still the beast did not let go. He then grabbed up Guthrie’s gun which had been dropped when he was attacked, and broke it over the animal. By this time , Alf Herring had run up with his Bowie knife and together with Vickery they succeeded in stabbing and cutting the beast until it fell over dead.

Guthrie had been terribly lacerated and bitten on the neck, shoulders and head, and his clothing were torn to shreds. He was weak from loss of blood and from the terrible encounter but was able to walk home.

Hightower Turns Up.

By this time, others of the neighborhood had arrived on the scene and brought to the hunters the news that Jim was not dead but horribly wounded and mangled by the tiger, his back, neck, and face and head being terribly torn, two of his jaw teeth broken out by the biting of the animal and clothing literally torn off of him.

The story of the attack as related by Jim, was to the effect when the tiger bore him down he fell on his face and having presence of mind, he would not cry out from the pain but would remain perfectly still like as if dead and worthy of his foe,  hold his breath when the animal would cease his biting and apparently listen, precisely as a cat does when trying to decide whether she has succeeded in extinguishing the life in the rat she has caught.  This was continued no doubt to what seemed an age to the suffering and bleeding boy, until finally the animal decided that it was safe to leave him and pursue the other and smaller boy.  Jim said he watched from one side as he lay on his face , the maneuvers of the tiger as he would lift his head and look in the direction in which the small boy left.  Finally, he said, the great cat began hastily to rake up leaves and straw over Jim’s body and when he had covered him he bounded off Jim knew not where.  When all was quiet and Jim could hear nothing more, he cautiously raised his bleeding head and looked around and listened again to see if he could hear anything of his foe.  Not hearing anything, and thinking it would be safe to try and reach home, he arose ans as fast as he could in his terrible condition, struck out towards home.  He had proceeded only a few hundred yards before coming to a little branch over which he had to pass in order to reach  home by the nearest route and by which route his little brother had gone. When he came in sight of that little branch, imagine his fright if you can, to see that tiger standing there in the path and lapping water.  Fortunately the animal didn’t see him and Jim turned and made his way home by a different route and so escaped a second attack.

Carcass Displayed

The men tied the tiger together, swung it upon a pole and carried it out to the home of Green (W.G.) Akins, placing it in the yard where it lay for a day, a sight to the numbers of people having heard of the great tiger fight, had come for miles to see.

It was a male tiger, a magnificent specimen, and from the description given by those who saw it, must have weighed as much as 250 pounds and as much as four feet in length. It was a solid tawny red in color and about 30 to 36 inches in height.

Jim Hightower, by reason of the many adventures he experienced, may be said to have possessed a charmed life.  He not only had a hand ruined in a cane mill and miraculously escaped death from a tiger, but was struck by lightning and stunned and was weeks in recovering; and he was bitten by a small rattlesnake and suffered greatly from that. Then later on in life he got into difficulty with a man named Wheeler, killing him and for which crime he served a penitentiary sentence of thirty years.

Story Said True

The above story is true and is given substantially as related to me by two persons who were living in the vicinity at that time.  One of them, Mrs Martha Guthrie, widow of Samuel Guthrie, the latter was in the hunt and was a brother of Hamp Guthrie. She and her husband were living at the Joe Stevens place on the Berrien County side of the river at the time, and she had been married two or three years.  She is still living at the home of her son S. F. Guthrie, in the Upper Tenth District of Berrien within four miles of where the hunt took place.  She is 87 years old, totally blind, but otherwise in possession of her faculties. Her mind is bright for one of her age and she talks intelligently about many things that happened in pioneer days.

Witnesses Named

The other living witness who can talk intelligently about frontier life is Mrs. Annie May, wife of Mr. Jerry May, who lives five miles east of Nashville, out on the Milltown Road.  She will be 87 years old on the 26th day of May, 1923, and is well-preserved for a woman of her age. She has spent a lifetime of hard work and still keeps house with her husband who will be 89 years old on next Sept 2nd.  She does her own cooking and housework feeding the chickens and pigs. She is the mother of seven children, all grown and married; and the youngest son Sirmans G. May lives near his aged parents and has grandchildren of his own. Mrs. May was a daughter of Green Akins, in whose front yard the slain animal was viewed by her as a little girl and by the hundreds who came to see it.

By all accounts, the Berrien Tiger  was certainly a large panther specimen. If it was as large as indicated in the account above – 250 pounds – then it was larger than the current record specimen, killed in Colorado in 2001.

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1849 Adventures With A Panther in Berrien County, GA

Here is a tale that has become part of the mythology of Berrien County, GA. It occurred in a swamp along the Alapaha River in 1849, before  Berrien County was created from parts of Lowndes County.  Although the principals involved where not residents of the Ray City area themselves, their relatives and descendants were. The story illustrates that the early pioneers of Berrien County and Ray City, GA were on the frontier of America. They settled wild lands to create their farms and the towns we know today.

This tale, Adventures With a Panther, was told  by the Reverend George White in Historical collections of Georgia: containing the most interesting facts, traditions, biographical sketches, anecdotes, etc. relating to its history and antiquities, from its first settlement to the present time ; compiled from original records and official documents ; illustrated by nearly one hundred engravings of public buildings, relics of antiquity, historic localities, natural scenery, portraits of distinguished men, etc., etc.,  published in 1855.

    ADVENTURE WITH A PANTHER. — In 1849, a step-son of Thomas B. Stewart and his younger brother were hunting hogs near a swamp, one mile from the Allapaha River, and ten miles above Knight’s Bridge. Their dog had left them and gone into the swamp ; but soon returned at full speed, closely pursued by a huge panther.

    Escape was impossible. The panther seized the elder brother, and mangled him most fearfully. Leaving him for dead, it then pursued the younger brother and the dog. It soon, however, returned. The boy finding escape impossible, pretended to be dead. After smelling around him, the animal proceeded to cover him partially with leaves and grass, and again renewed its pursuit of the other party.

    The wounded boy had by this time so far recovered from his wounds and fright as to be able to make good his escape, which he did as rapidly as possible. In the mean time, the younger boy had given the alarm and aroused the neighbourhood. William G. Aikin, John H. Guthrie, Alfred Herrin and Jesse Vickery, immediately went in pursuit.

    Upon arriving at the spot, they found the pile of leaves and grass, and broken bushes, but the boy and panther were both gone. Having an excellent dog, they soon trailed the panther into the swamp, and in a few hundred yards brought him to bay. The hunters entered the swamp, and proceeded cautiously until they approached within about thirty yards of the huge monster. Here they stopped to consult as to the manner of attack. Not so the panther. He was in their midst at almost a single bound.

    Seizing Guthrie, he dashed him violently to the earth, horribly gashing his head and face. Vickery discharged his piece, loaded with buckshot, into the panther’s breast, at a distance of six feet. Herrin’s gun missed fire, when he drew his knife, in real Western style, and cut the panther’s throat. The dog was killed in the fight by the cougar, but Guthrie and the boy escaped with their lives, and still survive to tell the tale.

In this account the victim of the panther attack, “The Boy,” is never fully identified, just that he was the stepson of Thomas B. Stewart.  Other accounts of the attack identify the victim as Jim Hightower (aka James Stewart), step-son of  Thomas B. Stewart.  There are records of Thomas B. Stewart and family in Lowndes County in the census of 1840 (prior to the creation of Berrien County), but  the members of his household are not identified by name.    Thomas B. Stewart appears in the census of 1850 in that portion of Clinch County that was cut from Lowndes County. His nearest neighbors are Alfred Herrin, William Green Akin, John H. Guthrie, and Jesse Vickery but the census gives no indication as to which of Thomas B. Stewart’s son’s might be step children.

1850 United States Federal Census enumeration of Thomas B Stewart:
Name: Thomas B Stewart
Age: 52
Estimated Birth Year: abt 1798
Birth Place: Virginia
Gender: Male
Home in 1850:  Clinch County, Georgia (Formerly Lowndes County)
Household Members: Name Age
Thomas B Stewart 52
Elizabeth Stewart 42
James Stewart 18
Nathaniel Stewart 15
Elizabeth Stewart 13
Joshua Stewart 11
Thomas Stewart 9
George Stewart 4

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John Guthrie ~ Ray City’s Musician Extraordinaire

An old newspaper clipping tells the story of John Guthrie, one of the Guthrie clan of Ray City, GA  and brother of Effie Guthrie Knight.

John Guthrie, Ray City, GA

John Guthrie, Ray City, GA

RAY CITY – It was another typical Ray City weeknight with lots of pickin’ and grinnin’ coming from the back room studio of John Guthrie,  country storekeeper and musician extraordinaire.

Guthrie is a local music legend, dating back 20 years and more when he would teach public school classes of 30 kids – some tone deaf – to play guitar.

Musicians from hereabouts, nearby towns like Lakeland, Valdosta and Adel, gather nightly in Guthrie’s cozy studio –  a slightly oversized room crammed with instruments, especially guitars.

Other folks come too; they want to listen and learn. Guthrie teaches “all fretted instruments and saxophone,” his card says.

But he has strict rules, “teaching only on Saturdays and Sundays. And I won’t teach a kid to play piano. They can’t reach an octave,” he declared.

Guthrie figured he could have easily made the big time long ago… if he had been willing to turn his back on his beloved Ray City and south Georgia.

“This is the best place in the world,” he exclaimed.

It was the tug of Ray City friendships which brought the native son home from a couple of years of drifting with different bands through Florida.

Those were lean times, Guthrie recalled, back during the Depression.

More than once he earned a free supper by masquerading as Jimmy Rogers, a country and western pioneer referred to “as the grandfather of folk music” by Guthrie.

People believed Guthrie when he introduced himself as Rogers whose plaintive ballads seemed to help sooth the Depression’s wounds.

“I’d play and sing. It wasn’t anytime before we’d get a big crowd around. Someone would come along and ask me home for supper,” he recalled.

Guthrie considers himself a very honest man. But those tough days put rigorous demands upon a young musician.

“I was hungry boy. I tell you, I was hungry.”

Conveniently, Guthrie had mastered the guitar by playing along with Jimmy Rogers recordings on an old windup Victrola.

Guthrie explained he could have stayed with the band. Several friends did make it to the big time, finding spots in the Nashville scene or with television or radio.

Although the days of  “all night dances” had an appeal, Guthrie explained he needed something more stable for when he got married.

“Of course, at that time I wouldn’t have married the Queen of Sheba.  I was just on my own without responsibility, playing music and having a good time.”

But a pretty South Carolina girl, vacationing in Winter Haven, Fla., derailed Guthrie’s career plans.

“She smiled at me while the band was on intermission. I went over and we had a talk,” he recalled.

Actually it was several years before Guthrie and the young woman from Chesterfield, S.C. married.

She returned home, but they corresponded.

“Then one day I went up and got her and brought her back to Ray City,” he said.

Guthrie called his wife “my first love.”

“But an old Spanish guitar is my second love,” he said.

“A guitar can talk back to you,” he explained. “It can cry with you, sing with you, be happy with you. There’s no other instrument that can produce the twangy sounds of an old Spanish guitar.”

Electric guitars also have a hold on Guthrie’s affections, but, he noted, “a guitar loses something out of its sound when you use an amplifier.”

Guthrie loves country music. But he also plays classical, Spanish, Mexican and gypsy style guitar music.

And the pop songs of his youth, “songs like Stardust,” he said, “had something to them.”

Contemporary music, he said, is based upon three chords.

“There’s too much repetition,” he complained.

“But those old jazz bands … when they put out a tune, it had something in it.”

Years ago, Lessie Guthrie Futch wrote in the margins of that newspaper clipping:

 “My youngest brother. If he was hungry, he should have been home on the farm with the family picking cotton.”

In his troubadour days, John hung with the ‘Genteel’ set.  While all his brothers wore overalls and worked the farm, he wore a white sports coat and worked the dance halls and social events. But later, he worked hard running a business and working in music to support his family.


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Effie Knight and the 1926 Ford Coupe Installment Plan

Effie Guthrie Knight


Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.


After Ralph Knight was killed in the sinking of the Otranto during   World War I, Effie Guthrie Knight had purchased a 51 acre farm located on Park Street  just outside of Ray City, GA. In 1926, this property was valued at $3500.00 and provided Effie with an income of $1500.00.

About 1923, Effie Knight went to work for Ray City merchant W.H.E. Terry as a saleswoman. She earned a salary of $150.00.

In 1926 Effie Knight decided to purchase a new Ford Coupe from Gaskins Motor Company in Nashville, GA. The car sold for $696.00, including finance charges.  She put $208.00 down with  the balance due over 12 months on an installment plan through the Standard Motors Finance Co., Inc, of New Orleans, LA. Effie gave her employer, W.H.E Terry, as a reference on the loan application.  Effie paid off the loan on time and received a “favorable” letter of appreciation from the finance company.

Standard Motor Company correspondence to Mrs. Effie Knight, June 11, 1927. Letter of debt satisfaction. Papers of Effie Guthrie Knight.

Standard Motor Company correspondence to Mrs. Effie Knight, June 11, 1927. Letter of debt satisfaction. Papers of Effie Guthrie Knight.

Perhaps it was the “Improved Ford,” introduced in 1926, that enticed Effie to become a car owner.  For the first time, Ford cars were available in colors other than black and new accessories were introduced including optional front and rear bumpers, and windshield wipers.

A 1926 Ford Advertisement suggestively featured a woman driver with a male passenger, and ran with the tag line “Easier to handle ~ safer to drive.”

The driving control of the Ford car is exceedingly simple, yet always dependable. It effectively reduces the possibilities of accidents – particularly in crowded city traffic. Foot pedal gear changing, powerful brakes, short wheelbase and full visibility, afforded by the all-steel body construction with narrower pillars and large plate-glass windows, are important reasons why Ford owners enjoy such security.  Let the nearest Authorized Ford Dealer explain the many features of Ford cars and demonstrate their easy handling. Get full particulars about convenient time payment plans.

1926 Ford Coupe Advertisement

1926 Ford Coupe Advertisement

The Anneberg telecourse and video series A Biography of America  sums up the rural appeal of the automobile:

 The Model T liberated millions of people who had never traveled more than 12 miles from their homes. That’s the distance a horse could go in a single day. Farm women could now jump into the family Ford and head off to town, anytime they liked. More farmers had cars than bathtubs. When asked why, one farm wife said, “You can’t drive to town in a bathtub.” Ford may have thought of the Model T as everyman’s car, but it was every woman’s car too. Women took to the wheel in droves.

Automobiles were the single most significant consumer product of the 1920s…As Thrift for Women (1930) demonstrates through stories told by individual farm women, the increased mobility of the population even contributed to greater prosperity in rural areas, as motorists stopped to purchase farm products from roadside stands and eat in farm houses where the farmer’s wife brought in extra income by selling produce to or cooking meals for strangers…Automobiles brought the consumer society to the country in other ways too. Would-be rural consumers were able to get to centers of consumption, as chain stores relocated to suburban areas outside of cities and movie theatres took up residence in farm country. A beguiling advertisement for Paramount Pictures in the February 1926 edition of Country Gentleman encapsulates the situation: “Today nobody with young ideas stays home when a few miles by the speedometer takes you to the motion picture theatre. . . . The farmer of years gone by might have been content to wear himself and his family out with all work and no play, but 1926 is a different story. . . . The motor car is a chapter in that story, and good roads leading to better theatres showing Paramount Pictures are another. . . . There all the members of the family may sit together under the same spell of enchantment, refreshed by the wholesome flood of make-believe. . . .” (p. 1) The ad’s emphasis on the family-togetherness of the event reinforces that this is a “wholesome” use of leisure time.

A 1926 advertisement for Paramount Pictures appealed to rural farm women like Effie Guthrie Knight, for whom the automobile was a part of "modern" independence. With a car, it was just a short drive for Ray City residents to shopping or leisure activities like movies, in Nashville or Valdosta, GA.

A 1926 advertisement for Paramount Pictures appealed to rural farm women like Effie Guthrie Knight, for whom the automobile was a part of “modern” independence. With a car, it was just a short drive for Ray City residents to shopping or leisure activities like movies, in Nashville or Valdosta, GA.

Also, 1926 was the year President Calvin Coolidge made off-hand remarks to the Federal Reserve Board that appeared to endorse installment plan buying. Organizations like the Y.M.C.A condemned the practice, while businessmen and finance companies sought the direct endorsement of the President.  The installment loan papers of Effie Knight  show that she clearly embraced consumer loans.

Effie Guthrie and the Knight Brothers of Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie, daughter of Arren H. Guthrie  and Lucy Newbern, was a lifelong resident of Ray City, GA and many of the Guthrie family connection still reside here.   She married first Ralph Knight.

Ralph Knight was one of the Knight brothers of Ray City, GA:  PaulAdrian, Ralph, and Raleigh, all sons of Walter Howard Knight and Jimmie Gardener Gullette.  There were four Knight sisters; Julia Elizabeth Knight, and Ruby Texas Knight, Dollie Howard Knight, and Laurie Inez Knight.

Effie became good friends with her sister-in-law Julia Knight.  After Ralph Knight was killed in the Otranto disaster of World War I, Julia and Effie sometimes travelled together.  Around 1921-22, the two women travelled by train to New York City on a shopping trip.  Later, Effie married Ralph’s brother,  Adrian Knight.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight. Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia.

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Effie Guthrie Knight and Owen Adrian Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Ralph Knight, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Martha Guthrie: Babe of the Indian Wars

Before her death Martha Guthrie, born amid the conflict of the Indian Wars of 1836-38 related the role of her family in that conflict. The Newbern homestead was located on the east bank of Five Mile Creek, perhaps about eight miles northeast of Ray City, GA.  This was probably somewhere in the present day vicinity of the Highway 168 bridge over Five Mile Creek.

Martha Newbern Guthrie was born April 10, 1836,  the daughter of Dred Newbern and Bettsy Sirmons. In the spring of that year, pioneers all across Wiregrass Georgia were facing increasing hostilities from the Native Americans who were being forced out of their ancestral lands.

The skirmish at William Parker’s place, on the Alapaha River about five miles east from the Newbern homestead, was a prelude to the Battle of Brushy Creek.

Here is Martha’s story, published many years ago, of the last Indian Fight in Berrien County:

    On the west side of the Alapaha River, six miles south of Bannockburn, on lot of land No. 201 in the 10th district of Berrien County, is a historic spring that is really entitled to be called Indian Spring, were it not that another spot in Georgia bears that name.
    On this lot of land in 1836 lived William Parker, who came to this section in search of a new home in new territory.  Four miles North and on lot No. 63 lived John Gaskins and his wife and four boys. Nearby lived William Peters and family.
    Four miles to the Southwest and on the East bank of Five Mile Creek lived Dred Newbern and his family (This [was later] known as the John Fender Place).
    William Gaskins lived further to the north where Bannockburn now is, while Harmon Gaskins lived west of the Parker Home five miles and on lot No. 172.  All this was then in Lowndes County.

Leaves for a Day

    One day in July 1836, William Parker had to be away from home, leaving his wife, small child and daughter, just entering her ‘teens, at home alone.  Mrs. Parker and her daughter did their washing down at the river bank at the spring mentioned above, and when the noon hour came they went back to the house some 300 yards distant to prepare and eat the noon-day meal. While so engaged they heard a noise down at the spring and on investigating were horrified to discover a band of Indians, dressed Indian fashion with headfeathers, assembled at the spring getting water.
    Hurriedly and cautiously Mrs. Parker sped back to the house and gathering up her baby, with her daughter, left quickly and set out to the west toward the home of Dryden Newbern.
    Arriving there she related what she had seen, as fast as her fright and exhaustion  would allow, for she had run every step of the way, and she was almost overcome with heat and fatigue.
    On learning this Mr. Newbern realized that the cause of their own experiences of the night before when the horses had become greatly frightened, snorting and breaking out of the horse lot and coming back the next morning.  It was supposed that they had become frightened at the sight of the Indians who were prowling around the neighborhood to steal.

Word Sent Out

  Quickly as possible, word was sent out by Mr. Newbern to his scattered neighbors.  The  women and children were gathered up and carried, some to Milltown  where they were placed in a strongly built gin house on the farm of Joshua Lee, while others were taken north to the home of John Marsh near where the S. B. Dorminey home is. A guard was left at each place for their protection and every able-bodied man that would be mustered returned to the Parker home and organized for action.
It was found that during the night the Indians had entered the homes of William Parker, Willis Peters and John Gaskins,  and finding no one at home proceeded to take out the feather beds, opened the ticks, emptied the feathers and appropriated the ticks.
They took other valuables including a shotbag from the Parker home containing his money,  a handsomely flowered pitcher from the Gaskins home, and other valuable articles which they thought they could carry.  They also obtained a small amount of sliver coins tied up in a rag from the Peters home.

Indians escape from first net

    Skirting the river on the West side and opposite the Parker home, is a hammocky swamp interspersed with spots of high ground and almost inaccessible to white men; and when the little band of white men arrived at the scene just after sunrise they could see the smoke of the Indian camp-fires rising in the center of the swamp.
William Peters was placed in command of the little band, because Capt. Levi J. Knight (in command of the militia at the time) had not arrived.  Orders were given to the men to entirely surround the Indian camp before firing a shot, if possible.
In the eagerness of the moment, however,  precautions were not observed and before the circle could be completed the Indians discovered the approach and opened fire; the whites returned the fire, and were horrified to see their leader, William Peters,  fall wounded through the front part of the abdomen by a bullet from a redskin gun.

Overtake Indians

    This so horrified and frustrated the whites until every Indian made his escape. As soon as the wounded man could be properly cared for and the whites being joined by others including Capt. Knight, gave pursuit and overtook the Indians while the last of the band was crossing the river, up near where the Withlacoochee bridge now stands, on the Nashville-Willacoochee road.
The whites pressed the Indians so hard and were so close in behind them until a portion of the plunder was thrown into the sloughs by the Indians, in order to allow swifter flight.
Among the articles thrown away were Mr. Parker’s shotbag containing his money, which was caught on a swinging limb and was suspended just under the water when found; the flowered pitcher taken from the Gaskin’s kitchen, and a shotgun (which was later sold for forty dollars),  also the small package of money taken from the Peters home, was found tied to a small bush under the water.  The river slough in which the pitcher was found has ever since been known as “Pitcher Slough.”
    The further progress of this band of Indians and their pursuers as they pushed their way through what is now Clinch county and the engagements near “Boggy Slough” and in which William Daughtry had a horse shot from under him and Barzilla Staten was dangerously wounded, is told by Folks Huxford in  his “History of Clinch County,” published in 1916.
The man who first discovered Mr. Parker’s shot bag containing his money was William Green Aikins.

Note–The forgoing episode was related to me by Mrs. Martha Guthrie, widow of Samuel Guthrie, and a daughter of Dred (or Dryden) Newbern and his wife, Elizabeth. Mrs. Guthrie was blind, but otherwise in full possession of all her faculties, and talked entertainingly of so many things that happened years ago.

The children of Martha Newbern and Samuel F. Guthrie:

  1. Lewis Guthrie  abt 1853 –
  2. Josephene Guthrie 1856 –
  3. Archibald Guthrie 1859 –
  4. Samuel Guthrie 1860 –
  5. Arren Horn Guthrie 1864 – 1932
  6. Dicey Guthrie 1866 – 1953
  7. James Berrien Guthrie 1868 – 1949
  8. Martha Guthrie 1870 –
  9. Linton Guthrie 1872 –
  10. Betty Guthrie 1874 –
  11. John Guthrie 1876 –
  12. Dread Guthrie 1879-

Checking on Citizens Bank of Ray City

Canceled checks drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City, Ray City, GA document some of the local businesses that Effie Guthrie Knight transacted with during 1927.

1927 check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City and made payable to Dr. Folsom.

1927 check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City and made payable to Dr. Folsom.

As the check above shows, Dr. George Hill Folsom came to Berrien County, GA some time prior to 1927. He established his home in Ray City where he engaged in general practice. A check in the amount of $1.00 might have been typical payment for an office visit in that time.

1927 check written by Effie Knight to C.O. Terry, and drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

1927 check written by Effie Knight to C.O. Terry, and drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City.

Written the same day as the previous check, this check to Ray City pharmacist, C. O. Terry,  may have been to fill a prescription written by Dr. George Hill Folsom.

Check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City in payment to G. M. Purvis, made out in the amount of two dollars and fifty cents, and signed by Effie Knight.

Check drawn on the Citizens Bank of Ray City in payment to G. M. Purvis

Another check written by Effie Knight  is made out to G.M. Purvis.  Guy Marvin Purvis owned a general merchandise store in Ray City, GA.  Furthermore, he was Effie’s brother-in-law so naturally she’d be inclined to do business there.

 A check made out July 5, 1927 to G.V. Hardie in the amount of twelve dollars and seventy cents, and drawn on the account of Effie Knight at The Citizens Bank of Ray City.

A check made out July 5, 1927 to G.V. Hardie in the amount of twelve dollars and seventy cents, and drawn on the account of Effie Knight at The Citizens Bank of Ray City.

In the 1920s, Gordon Vancie Hardie opened up the first gas station in Ray City, GA. The check above may have been payment for service on Effie Knight’s car.


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