Mary Ann Knight and William A. Jones

Mary Ann Knight was born  July 1, 1838 near Beaverdam Creek,  the present day site of  Ray City, GA  Her parents, John Knight and Sarah Sally Moore were pioneer settlers of the area, then situated in Lowndes County, Georgia but cut into Berrien County in 1856.

Mary Ann Knight Jones married William A.  Jones On November 5, 1856 in Berrien County, Georgia in a ceremony performed by the bride’s grandfather, Elder William A. Knight. The Berrien County Marriage Records of 1956 include the following hand written entry:

 Go any ordained minister of the gospel Judge of the Superior Justice of the Inferior Court Justice of the peace or any person by the Laws of this State authorised to Celibrate  these are to authorise and permit you to join in the Venerable State of matrimony this William, A. Jones of the one part and this Mary Ann Knight of the other part according to the constitution and laws of this state and according to the rites of your church provided there be no lawful cause to obstruct the same and this shall be your authority for so doing given under my hand and seal this the 1st day of November 1856.

John Lindsey Ordy

Thereby Certify that William A. Jones and Miss Mary Ann Knight were duly joined in matrimony by me this fifth day of Nov 1856

William A Knight, O.M.

Mary Ann and W.A. Jones settled on a farm next to her brother, William Washington Knight in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA. Other nearby neighbors included James A. Knight, Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farm of Allen Jones and Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones was in the same area.

In 1861 Mary Ann and William had a son, William Malachi Jones.

When the Civil War got underway,  William A Jones joined the Berrien Minute Men, along with Mary Ann’s brothers and other men of Berrien County. This was a company of volunteer infantry organized by Mary Ann’s father, Levi J Knight.  The Berrien Minute Men were mustered in as Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry, and William A. Jones was enlisted as a private on August 1, 1861 at Savannah, GA. Four months later the company muster rolls note that he was “absent with leave.” Later service records show that he died of measles in Berrien County on January 18, 1862. The location of his grave is unknown.

Mary had two children by William A. Jones, the youngest, Adam, apparently born after his father’s death.  Adam Jones was deaf and dumb, birth defects with a high probability for a baby whose mother is infected with measles in the early weeks of pregnancy.

For five years, the widow Jones raised her children as a single parent. On March 25, 1866 she married Green Bullard  in Berrien County, GA.

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The Estate of Green Bullard

Green Bullard

 

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Allen Jones

Allen Jones (1800-1875)

Allen Jones was the second husband of Keziah Knight Giddens, widow of Isben Giddens.  She was a daughter of William Anderson Knight, pioneer settler of the Ray City area.  Following the demise of Mr. Knight, Allen Jones acted on behalf of the family in collecting a debt owed to the estate.

Allen Jones was born January 1, 1800, in Bulloch County, a son of Thomas and Martha Denmark Jones. He grew to manhood in Bulloch County.  On January 16, 1823 he married Ann Cone, daughter of Aaron Cone and grand-daughter of William Cone, R.S. She was born January 5, 1801

To Allen Jones and Ann Cone were born four children:

  1. Sarah Jones, born 1823, married Fleming B. Walker of Brooks Co.
  2. Susannah Jones, born 1827, married Benjamin F. Whipple from New York.
  3. Thomas A. Jones, born 1828, married Martha , Died in Savannah
  4. Aaron Cone Jones, born 1831, married (1) Jane Vickers (2) Mrs. Polly Williams Lovett

About 1837 Allen Jones bought a farm in the Grooverville area in that part of Thomas County  later cut into Brooks County, where he moved his family. Some time  in the early 1840s he sold his Grooverville property and moved to Lowndes county and settled on a farm in the Cat Creek District. While living there he served as Justice of the Inferior Court of Lowndes County 1845-1853.  Jones was a primitive baptist by faith, and joined with Friendship Church at Hahira, GA

His wife, Ann Cone Jones, died about 1855,  Afterwards, the widower Jones re-married to the widow of Isbin Giddens and daughter of William Anderson Knight, Kiziah Knight Giddens. The couple made their home in the new county of Berrien, in the vicinity of present day Ray City, GA near the homes of Reverend Nathan Talley, William R. Brandon, and James M. Baskin. The farms of William A. Jones, William Washington Knight and James A. Knight were in the same area.

In Berrien County Allen Jones served as a Justice of the Inferior Court, 1861-1862.

On November 1, 1861 Allen Jones lost his second wife, Kiziah Knight Giddens Jones.  At the time of her death, the estate of her father had not been settled.  This put her widowed husband, Allen Jones, in a curious position of having to file a fi fas action against a debtor, John W. Turner, in order to settle a debt owed to the estate of William A. Knight, so that the estate of his dead wife could inherit from her father’s estate, and he in turn could inherit from his wife’s estate.

After the death of Kiziah, Allen Jones married a third time.  The marriage was March 8, 1862 in Berrien County to Mrs. Eliza Kinsey Newsom, widow of William Newsom. The wedding ceremony was performed by primitive baptist Elder Ansel Parrish.

The couple removed to Lowndes county. Mr. Jones acquired a farm about one mile from Mineola, GA where he died August 2, 1875.

He was buried on his estate lands, in a small cemetery; grave unmarked.

Mr. Jones died testate in Lowndes County, leaving a will dated February 11, 1871, probated August 2, 1875, in Lowndes  Court of the Ordinary.  It bequeathed his lands consisting of home place on Lot No. 51, 11th district of Lowndes County, to his wife Eliza and his children and her children, viz: Mrs. Sarah Walker, Mrs. Susannah Whipple, Thomas A. Jones, deceased; Aaron C. Jones, Mrs. Miriam Harrell, wife of John W. Harrel and Asa Newsom. 

Aaron C. Jones and Asa Newsom were appointed executors of the will.  They were fellow veterans of the Civil War, Jones having served with the 56th Georgia Regiment, Company B, and Newsom serving with the Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.

†††

The Will of Allen Jones
State of Georgia
Lowndes County

In the name of God, Amen, I, Allen Jones, of said state and county, being of advanced age, but sound and disposing mind and memory, knowing that I must shortly depart this life, deem it right and proper both as respects my family and myself, that I should make a disposition of my property with which a kind providence has blessed me I do therefore make this my last will and testament hereby revoking and annulling all others by me heretofore made.

First, I desire and direct that my body be buried in a decent and Christian-like manner suitable to my circumstances and conditions in life. My said body shall return to dust – to the God who gave it, as I hope for salvation through the merits and atonement of our Blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Secondly, I desire and direct that my just debts be paid without delay by Executors hereinafter named and appointed

Thirdly, I give and bequeath to my beloved wife (Eliza) for and during her natural life only (without power to dispose of by will or otherwise) one lot of land number 27 in the Eleventh district of Lowndes county being the improved land on which we now live. I also give and bequeath to my beloved wife in the same reserved manner the farming utensils used on and belonging to the farm on said lot of land; and two mules, my carriage horse and carriage, my other live stock of each all and every kind where ever found, all the provisions on said farm side; growing crop (if any) and all my household and kitchen furniture and I direct my executor not to molest disturb trouble or bother my beloved wife within peaceably proper on and holding the property holding given her for and during her natural life.

Fourthly, The residue of my property both real and personal whatever and where ever it may be including that given to my wife in the third article of this will for and during her natural life only (after her estate ? is over) I give bequeath and bestow by equal shares  to the heirs of my natural body, and heirs of the body of my wife, to wit; Sarah Walker, Susan Whipple, Thomas A. Jones deceased, Aaron C. Jones, Miriam Harrell (alias Mrs. John P. Harrell), and Asa Newsome in fee simple and forever.

Fifthly, I hereby constitute and appoint my son Aaron C. Jones and Asa Newsom both of the county and state aforesaid sole executors of this my last will and testament this February 11th 1871.

Allen Jones

Signed sealed dictated and published by Allen Jones as his last will and testament in the presence of us the undersigned who subscribed from hereunto in the presence of said testators at his special insistence done —– in the presence of each other.

Hanford D. Tyler
John H. Tyler
Asa Newsom

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Strange Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones

Charles X. Jones

The death certificate of Dr. Charles X. Jones, physician, banker, and first elected mayor of Ray City, Berrien County, GA poses something of a mystery. The Informant on the Certificate of Death is Fred D. Jones, son of the deceased and resident of Ray City, GA. The death certificate bears out that Charles X. Jones later lived in the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA near the community of Barretts; his birthplace in Bowdon, GA; profession as a medical doctor; death on August 3, 1933; and burial at New Bethel Church Cemetery, Lowndes County, GA on August 4, 1933. The undertaker was John Porter Ulmer, of Valdosta, GA.   However, in other details the Certificate of Death raises questions.

Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones, first elected mayor of Ray City, GA

Death Certificate of Charles X. Jones, first elected mayor of Ray City, GA. Image source: Kenneth

A question about the death certificate immediately arises with the full name of the deceased. In documentation, the name of Ray City’s first mayor appears as Charles X. Jones, but on the death certificate the full name is given as Charles Xenophon Jones.  Other sources have given the Doctor’s middle name as Xavier. Is it possible that Fred Jones did not know his father’s middle name?

Another discrepancy arises in the names of the parents of the deceased.  These would have been the grandparents of the death certificate informant, Fred D. Jones.   The name of the mother of the deceased was unknown to Fred. It is perhaps not surprising that Fred did not know his grandmother’s maiden name was Martha H. Word, since he was only about three years old when she died in 1908. Fred gives the name of the father of the deceased as Amous Jones.  Yet evidence from census and newspaper records document that the father of Dr. Charles X. Jones was Major William Dudley Jones (1821-1905), prominent citizen of Carroll County and resident of Bowdon, GA.

The birth date is also a discrepancy.  The death certificate gives the date of birth as September 15, 1869, but the grave marker at New Bethel Church Cemetery bears September 15, 1870 as the year of Dr. Jones birth.  An 1870 or later birth date is supported by the absence of Charles X. Jones in the 1870 census records.

1870 Census enumeration of the household of William Dudley Jones, Town of Bowdon, Carroll County, Georgia

1870 Census enumeration of the household of William Dudley Jones, Town of Bowdon, Carroll County, Georgia

In the 1870 census Dr. Jones’ father and mother were enumerated in Bowdon, GA with four children residing in their household.  The father, William D. Jones, worked as a shoe & boot maker. He owned real estate valued at $1000 and $100 dollars worth of personal property. The mother, Martha Jones, kept house. Children of William D. Jones and Martha H. Word residing in the home at the time of the July 5, 1870 enumeration were:

  1. William Jones, 22, works in shop
  2. Abbey Jones, 7, at home
  3. Mattie Jones, 5, at home
  4. Thomas Jones, 3, at home

While Charles X. Jones is absent from the 1870 census, he does appear in the 1880 census enumerated on June 3, 1880 at age nine. This age is consistent with a birth date of September 15, 1870.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

A further interesting note is thatno doctor was present at the time of death to sign the Certificate of Death.   Instead, the certificate was signed by  A.W. McDonald. The cause of death was reported as apoplexy.  Arthur Walton McDonald was a brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City, GA.  McDonald had known Dr. Jones at least 13 years, having enumerated the Jones household as census taker in the Census of 1920.

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Charles X Jones Was a Leading Spirit of Ray City

In a shady cemetery plot at New Bethel Church, about seven miles southwest of Ray City, GA, lies the grave of the town’s first elected mayor, Dr. Charles X. Jones.

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Grave of Charles X. Jones (1870-1933), First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Charles X. Jones was born in Carroll County, GA on September 15, 1870 (or 1869 according to his death certificate).    When Charles  was born  his father, Maj. William Dudley Jones, was 50 and his mother, Martha H. Word, was 45. His father was a farmer at Bowdon, GA and also served as county tax collector of Carroll County. His mother’s parents were John Bryson Word and Amelia Sparks.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, son of Major William Dudley Jones, in Carroll County, Georgia, on June 3, 1880.

Charles X. Jones grew up on his father’s farm near Bowdon, GA in the 1111th district of Carroll County.  Bowden was a progressive community and the site of Bowdon College, “Georgia’s fifth chartered institution of higher education and first coeducational institution. Bowdon was a frontier community of merchants and yeomen who nourished the growth of a school where earnest students of limited means bettered their lives and their communities…Graduates have carried the honor of the institution into our state and national capitals and throughout the world. From her halls have come educators, doctors, lawyers, journalists, judges, bankers, farmers, industrialists, governors, and senators.”  Charles X. Jones was admitted to Bowden College where he completed the full program of study and graduated on July 1, 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Bowdon College, GA, photographed circa 1899. Charles X. Jones graduated from Bowdon College in 1891.

Jones later attended the medical school in Augusta, GA now known as Georgia Regents University, and received his medical degree  in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

Old Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA. Charles X. Jones graduated with a medical degree in 1898.

After medical school, young Dr. Jones came to Berrien County,GA to the Ray’s Mill Community.  He boarded with James S. Swindle and Catherline “Candas” Swindle while establishing his practice.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

Census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, physician, in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, on June 13, 1900.

In 1901, Dr. Jones married 17-year-old Effie J. Mclean; he was about 31 years of age. The marriage ceremony was performed in Berrien County, GA by Elder Aaron Anderson Knight, Primitive Baptist Minister of Ray City.  Elder Knight’s church at that time was New Ramah Church in Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

Dr. Charles X. Jones married Effie J. McLean on December 3, 1901 in Berrien County, GA.

In 1903, Charles X. Jones purchased a 4 acre tract of land from James S. Swindle along Card Creek, the outflow of Ray’s Millpond now known as Beaverdam Creek.  That same year Charles and Effie began their family with the birth of their first child, Sam Jones.

In the summer of 1905, word came from Bowdon, GA that Dr. Jones’ father had died of a stroke. The obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution and other state papers.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905.

Obituary of Major William Dudley Jones, died June 19, 1905. Atlanta Constitution, June 21, 1905.

Atlanta Constitution
June 21, 1905

Major W.D. Jones, Carrollton, Ga.

Major W. D. Jones, a very highly respected citizen of this county, who lived near Bowdon, died suddenly as a result of a stroke of paralysis yesterday. He was 90 years old. He was the father of the late Colonel J. W. Jones, of Bowdon, and of Dr. Charles X. Jones, near Valdosta.

In 1908, Charles X. Jones’ tract of land was platted into town lots in the newly incorporated town of Rays Mill, GA.  Charles and Effie built the first house in  the  town and became its first residents. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past the Jones residence was named Jones Street in the doctor’s honor. Redding D. Swindle was  appointed as the mayor until the first elections could be held, and Jones carried the election in the first casting of ballots for the government of the new town. Mary Etta Swindle, wife of R.D. Swindle won a contest to name the new town, proposing it be called Ray City, GA although the title of Rays Mill persisted for many years thereafter.

The Jones residence was the very first household enumerated in Rays Mill, GA in the census of 1910. Dr. Charles X. Jones was enumerated with a reported age of 39, wife Effie J. Jones (26), and their children Sam Jones (7), Fred Jones (5), Trixie Jones (3), and Charles X. Jones, Jr (1).

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. and family in Rays Mill, Berrien County, Georgia, April 15, 1910.

Dr. Jones was also a banker. When the Bank of Rays Mill was formed in 1911, Dr. Jones  was elected Vice President of the bank, and served on the Board of Directors along with B. P. Jones,  J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. H. E. Terry, L. J. Clements and bank president Clarence L. Smith. Later, Charles X. Jones  and Clarence L. Smith served together on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., formed 1913 in Valdosta, GA.  The Southern Bank & Trust Company closed its doors in 1918.

By 1920, Dr. Jones had acquired a farm south of Ray City, near the community of Barretts on the Ray City – Valdosta Road, where he relocated and continued his medical practice. This was in the 1307th Georgia Militia District, the Cat Creek District of Lowndes County, GA. In the census of 1920, Jones residence was enumerated by census taker Arthur Walton McDonald, brother of Lacy A. McDonald who was a mailman at Ray City.

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

1920 census enumeration of Dr. Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA

By the time of the 1930 census, Charles X. Jones was about 60 years old and retired from medical practice. His farm place near Barretts, valued at $5000,  was owned free and clear of mortgage. Census record indicate Jones had become a merchant/operator of a dry goods store.  Also in Dr. Jones household were his  son, Charles X. Jones, Jr.,  daughter Trixie Jones Moore (widow of Carl L. Moore), and her children, Mattie Lou Moore and Helene Moore. Trixie Jones Moore, worked as a general merchandise clerk, while Charles X. Jones, Jr. helped with the farm work.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

1930 census enumeration of Charles X. Jones, Lowndes County, GA. Now retired from medical practice, Jones operated a dry goods store and maintained his farm in the Barretts Community.

On August 3, 1933 Charles X. Jones suffered an attack of “apoplexy” – a venerable word for a stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), often associated with loss of consciousness and paralysis of various parts of the body.  Before the day was out he succumbed to death.

Charles X. Jones was a civic minded citizen and an important figure in the incorporation of the town of Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  He was said to be a leading spirit of the town.

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Dr. Jones was a Banker at Rays Mill

Dr. Charles Xavier Jones, First Mayor of Ray City

Charles X. Jones ~ Mayor, doctor and banker of Ray City, GA

In addition to serving as Ray City’s first doctor and first Mayor, Charles X. Jones was among the town’s early bankers. The Tuesday, May 23, 1911 Valdosta Times noted that Dr. Jones was elected Vice President of the Bank of Rays Mill, GA.  Clarence L. Smith was the President, and Lewis M. Marshall, cashier.

Bank of Rays Mill elects officers.

Bank of Rays Mill elects officers, May 23, 1911

Valdosta Times
May 23, 1911

New Bank at Rays Mill.

The Times of Saturday [May 20] stated that Mr. B. P. Jones and Mr. C. L. Smith had gone to Rays Mill to assist in organizing a bank at that place. The bank is to be known as the Bank of Rays Mill, and it has a capital stock of $25,000.
Mr. C. L. Smith was elected president of the concern and Mr. L. M. Marshall of this city [Valdosta] was elected cashier, with Dr. C. X. Jones, of Rays Mill, vice-president. The directors are as follows: B. P. Jones, C. L. Smith, J. S. Swindle, J. H. Swindle, W. E. H. Terry, L. J. Clements and C. H. Jones.

Later, Charles X. Jones served on the board of directors of Southern Bank & Trust Co., Valdosta, GA.

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Smith and Jones Open Bank at Ray’s Mill

In 1911, B. P. Jones, President of the Valdosta Bank and Trust, and Clarence L. Smith, Vice President, came to Rays Mill, GA on business. Jones’ wife was a daughter of Jonathan Knight, and a granddaughter of Reverend William A. Knight.

Valdosta Times, May 23, 1911 news item,

Valdosta Times, May 23, 1911 news item, “Organized bank at Rays Mill”

The Valdosta Times
May 23, 1911

Organized Bank at Rays Mill

Messrs B. P. Jones and C. L. Smith went up to Rays Mill this morning for the purpose of organizing a Bank at that place to be known as the Bank of Rays Mill.  It will have a capital stock of $25,000.

The Ray City investors received a State Bank Charter and opened for business on August 14, 1911.  The other investors were: J.S. Swindle, J.H. Swindle, M.T. Bradford, 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.

The principal banker, Benjamin Perry Jones, was a former resident of Berrien County, and had operated mercantile at Milltown. In 1913, a biographical sketch was included in A history of Savannah and south Georgia:

Harden, William,. A history of Savannah and south Georgia. Chicago: Lewis Pub. Co., 1913.

p. 747-749

   BENJAMIN P. JONES, the president of the Valdosta Bank and Trust Company has had a long career in business, has won prosperity and influence much above that of the average man, and yet began with little or nothing and for a number of years had a hard struggle with the obstacles of business life. Mr. Jones is one of the prominent citizens of south Georgia, and has been identified with Valdosta from the time it was a small village.

   Mr. Benjamin P. Jones was born, June 25, 1837, in that part of Camden now Charlton county, Georgia. His grandfather was James Jones, thought to have been a native of Georgia, who was a Camden county planter, having a number of slaves, and died there at the age of seventy-five, his remains now reposing in the Buffalo churchyard. He married a Miss Davis, who was upwards of eighty when she died, and they reared a large family of children. They were Primitive Baptists in religion.

   Burrell Jones, father of the Valdosta banker, was born in Wayne county, Georgia, April 29, 1803. About the time of his marriage he bought land near Folkston, living there a few years, and about 1840 returned to Wayne county and located on a farm near the present site of Lulaton, where he made his home until his death in 1877. He married Mary Margaret (known as Peggy) Mizell, who was born in Bulloch county, August 9, 1809. Her father, Jesse Mizell, of English stock and a native of North Carolina, was a soldier of the Revolution under Jasper at Savannah and with Marion during that leader’s valorous excursions against the British. He was with the command when it crossed the Peedee river, first lay blankets on the bridge to deaden the sound of the horses’ hoofs, and in this way surprised the enemy. Some years after the Revolution Jesse Mizell came to Georgia, living two years in Camden county, and then moved into the interior, settling near the present site of Folkston in Charlton county, where he bought land and was engaged in farming and stock raising until his death at the age of about sixty. He married a Miss Stallings, a native of North Carolina and of Dutch ancestry. Mary M. Mizell, the mother of Mr. Jones, spent her early life on the Georgia frontier, and for the lack of educational advantages she compensated by her great natural ability and force of character. Her husband was for many years an invalid, and the care of the children devolved entirely upon her. She reared them to habits of industry and honor, and they paid her all filial reverence. Her death occurred in 1885. Her nine children were named as follows: Harley, Joseph, Benjamin P., Margaret, James B., Nancy C., Harriet, Jasper N. and Newton J.   Harley and Joseph were Confederate soldiers and died during their service for the southern cause.

   Though in his youth he had little opportunity to obtain an education, Benjamin P. Jones managed to obtain an education largely through his own efforts at self-improvement and an ingrained habit of close observation. When he was seventeen he became a teacher, and while he did good service while in this occupation it may be remembered that qualifications for teaching were not very high at that period. Anyone could teach who could find others who knew less than himself, and there was no formality of examination. Intellectual curiosity was a passion with him from an early age, and the time most children give to play with their comrades he devoted to association in company with his elders, thus learning by listening. When he was twelve years old he once attended a court session, listening attentively to the evidence and the charge to the jury. At recess the judge asked why he was so absorbed in the proceedings. The boy replied that it was because he wanted to learn, and then asked the judge why he charged the jury as he did. That was equity, responded the judge, and after explaining the meaning of that word told the boy that if he ever had occasion to make out papers to make them out in accordance with equity and justice and he would sanction them if brought before his court. Chopping cotton at twenty-five cents a day and board was the means by which Mr. Jones earned his first money. A little later he became clerk in a general store at Lulaton, and after a time engaged in business for himself at Stockton, Georgia. Hardly had his trade started when a panic paralyzed all business, and he found himself in debt fifteen hundred dollars, which took him some time to pay off.

   Early in 1861 Mr. Jones enlisted in Company D of the Twenty-sixth Georgia Infantry, and was with that command in the coast defense until the regiment was ordered to Virginia, when he secured a substitute. Confederate money was then plentiful but away below par, and he bought a farm for three thousand dollars, at war-time prices, going in debt for the greater part of this amount. He was busily engaged in farming until 1864, when he enlisted with the Georgia Reserves, being commissioned first lieutenant and being in actual command of his company. The Reserves went to the defense of Atlanta, but from Griffin his company was sent back to recruit and apprehend deserters, and he was on detached duty until the close of the war. After making three crops on his farm he sold the land for four hundred dollars, and with that money and what he had realized from his crops engaged in the mercantile business at Milltown in Berrien county. Nine days after opening his store an epidemic of smallpox broke out, he was quarantined fifty-two days, and at the end of that time offered to sell his entire stock for three hundred dollars but could not find a buyer. Owing to this circumstance he went on with his business, at the same time buying cotton and dealing in live stock, and in four years had so reversed the current of his previous fortunes that he had cleared up fourteen thousand dollars. Then selling out at Milltown he went to southern Florida, where he opened two stores and established a grist and saw mill, and was engaged in business there until 1874, when ill health compelled him to make a change. He sacrificed eight thousand dollars by the move, and then came to Valdosta, which was then a village. Here he bought an established general store and a home for three thousand dollars, and was prosperously identified with the mercantile enterprise of this city for twenty years. In 1894 Mr. Jones organized the Valdosta Guano Company, and in 1906 the Valdosta Bank & Trust Company, of which he has since been president, with his son C. L. as cashier.

   On June 25, 1862, Mr. Jones married Miss Elizabeth Knight, who was born in Clinch county, October 18, 1843, representing an old family of southern Georgia. Her grandfather, Rev. William Knight, was a pioneer preacher in this part of the state. He married a Miss Cone. Jonathan Knight, the father of Mrs. Jones, was born in that part of Lowndes now Berrien county, and spent his life as a farmer in Clinch and Berrien counties. Mr. and Mrs. Jones reared thirteen children, named as follows: Jonathan H., Charles Lee, Frances M. McKenzie; Lillie Roberts, Samuel W., Elizabeth Fry, Benjamin U., Jimmie Staten Green, Eulah Norris, Pearl Mashburn, Lloyd E., Lotta and Audrey Terry.

   Mr. Jones has been identified with the Masonic order since he was twenty-seven years old. He is a member of the Economic League of Boston, Massachusetts, a society for the betterment of mankind. He has been one of the influential men in political life for many years. His first presidential vote was cast for John C. Breckenridge in 1860. He was opposed to secession, in a speech in which he said that if the sixteen southern states would all go out in a body, taking the constitution in one hand and the flag in the other, he would favor the movement with his vote, but not otherwise. In subsequent years he has served as delegate to many county and state conventions, was a delegate to the national conventions that nominated General Hancock and Grover Cleveland, and was also one of the sound-money Democratic delegates of 1896 who nominated Palmer and Buckner. Since 1898 he has not been allied with any party, and as a free lance has supported the individual who best represents his ideas of government.

Me and Mrs. Jones: Harmon Gaskins Had A Thing Going On – Twice

Over the course of his life, Harmon Gaskins twice married widows named Mrs. Jones.  He first married Melissa Rouse Jones, widow of Clayton Jones, and second married Mary McCutchen Jones, widow of Matthew Jones. For nearly forty years, Harmon Gaskins and his family lived near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles northeast of present day Ray City, GA.

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Graves of Melissa and Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Harmon Gaskins was one of the early pioneers of Berrien County, originally settling along with his father, Fisher Gaskins, and brothers John and William near present day Bannockburn, GA. They made their homes on the west side of the Alapaha River about 16 miles distant from today’s Ray City, GA location.

Born in Beaufort, South Carolina around 1808, Harmon Gaskins was the youngest son of Rhoda Rowe and Fisher Gaskins, and a grandson of Thomas Gaskins, Revolutionary Soldier.  Fisher Gaskins and his family appear there in Beaufort District in the Census of 1810.  That same year, when Harmon was perhaps two years old, his mother died.   His widowed father packed up the five young children and moved the family back to Warren County, GA, where the family had lived prior to 1807.  There, on January 17, 1811 his father remarried.  Harmon’s new step-mother was Mary Lacy.  Her father, Archibald Lacy, was also a veteran of the Revolutionary War. His stepmother’s brother, the Reverend John B. Lacy, would later become a prominent Primitive Baptist Minister

It was about this time that Harmon’s father, Fisher Gaskins,  began to expand his livestock operations. Soon he was looking to acquire good land on which to raise his growing herds of cattle. By 1812,  Harmon’s father had moved the family to Telfair County, GA where there was good grazing land for his cattle. His father was very successful in the cattle business and soon had large herds, not only in Telfair County, but also in Walton and other surrounding counties where good natural pasturage could be had.

Around 1821, Harmon’s father moved his family and cattle yet again, this time to the newly created Appling County, GA, south of the Ocmulgee River.  Harmon Gaskins, now a lad of 12 or 13 years, moved with the family.

By the end of 1825, the Georgia Legislature formed the new county of Lowndes out of the southern half of Irwin County. It was around that time or shortly thereafter, Harmon’s father brought his cattle herds and family father south into that portion of Lowndes County that would later be cut into Berrien County.  Fisher Gaskins (Sr.) brought his family into Lowndes County and settled west of the Alapha River perhaps a little south of the present day Bannockburn, GA, and about 15 miles north of the area where William A. Knight, Isbin Giddens,  and David Clements were settling their families above Grand Bay.

Around 1832, Harmon’s father moved farther south into Florida where it was said that there was even better pasture land for cattle. Harmon stayed behind, as well as his brothers, William and John.

Harmon Gaskins married about 1835 and first established his own home place on the Gaskins land near Gaskins cemetery.  Harmon Gaskins, and his brothers William and John, were among Captain Levi J. Knight’s Company of men who fought in the Indian Wars of 1836.  Many published accounts of the pioneer skirmishes with Native Americans at  William Parker’s place on the Alapaha River and at Brushy Creek have been related on the Ray City History Blog.

In the late 1830s, Harmon Gaskins moved his family to a location near Five Mile Creek, about six or seven miles from present day Ray City, GA.  The Census of 1850 shows the Harmon Gaskins place was located next to the farm of Mark Watson, which was  in the area of Empire Church.  Harmon Gaskins kept his residence here until 1875, when he decide to build a place nearer the Alapaha River. Just two years later, Harmon Gaskins died and was buried at the Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Sixty years after his death, the Clinch County News ran an account of Harmon Gaskins life in Berrien County:

The Clinch County News
April 23, 1937

Harmon Gaskins – 1808-1878

    This the youngest of the three sons of Fisher and Rhoda Rowe Gaskins, was born in 1808, and began life for himself as a laborer on the farm of a neighbor, Mrs. Clayton Jones.  He was about grown when his father decided to move to Florida; and ere long he was in love with Mrs. Melissa Jones, widow of Clayton Jones.  Mrs. Jones’ husband had moved to this county from Emanuel County along with the Sirmans family of Clinch and Berrien counties.  Her husband died about 1830 or 1832 and left her with three children, viz; Irving Jones and Henry Jones and Harriet who later married Wm. M. Avera.  The daughter Harriet was only about two or three years old when her father died, she being born in 1829.  Mrs. Melissa Jones was an illegitimate daughter of Miss Martha (Patsy) Rouse who later became the wife of Jonathan Sirmans of this [Clinch] county. The father of this illegitimate child was named Rowland, a fair-haired, blue-eyed Scotch-Irish man of handsome mien and who deceived the youthful maiden and went away never to return.  This illegitimate child grew up and married Clayton Jones in Emanuel county, and they came to Berrien county about 1825, and he died about 1830-2 as already stated, leaving his widow possessed of a home and farm and with five children to take care of.  Harmon Gaskins, about her age, but a little younger, after working for her on the farm a year or two, proposed marriage and was accepted and they were married about 1835.
    Their first child Rhoda was born Jan. 17, 1837, at the old homestead which was located on the Willacoochee Road leading east from Nashville by way of Avera’s Mill 7 miles east of Nashville and near the Gaskins Graveyard.
    The early life of Harmon Gaskins was not  different from that of other pioneers’ sons growing up in the atmosphere of frontier life.  He was reared to live the chase and many were the conquests made by him in company with his father and brothers of the wild beasts that then abounded and roamed through the country.  Like his father and brothers, he became the owner of a vast herd of cattle, and from the proceeds of sales of his beef-cattle each year he was able to save up gold and silver which in his hands stayed out of the channels of trade for years at the time. He was inured to the hardships of life as it then existed.  His only mode of travel was horseback unless he had to make a trip to a distant trading-point for supplies that could not be produced on the farm.  In such event of a trip, the horse was hitched to a two-wheeled cart of his own construction he being an excellent blacksmith and wheelright; and journey made in company with two or three neighbors situated like himself.  They drove their carts sitting astride their horses, and took rest-spells by occasionally walking by the side of the horse.  Such trips had to be made to St. Marks, Fla., or to old Center Village in what is now Charlton county.  An occasional trip would be made to Savannah but most of the trips were made to the other points named; these trips were usually about once a year, and would last a week or ten days.
  After the birth of two or three children the homesite of Harmon Gaskins was moved to a different location on the same lot of land and for many years he lived near Five-Miles Creek just east of his first location. This was  his home until about 1875 when he decided to locate on a lot of land which he had owned for several years lying nearer the Alapaha River and east of his old home.  Here he constructed a plain log dwelling and began the work of making a new home for himself and family, renting out the old home-place. He died at his last location.
    After the death of his first wife, Mr. Gaskins was married to Mrs. Mary Jones, widow of Matthew Jones and daughter of Robert and Cornelia McCutcheon, pioneer citizens of Irwin and Berrien counties.  By his two marriages, Mr. Gaskins had fourteen children – nine by his first wife and five by the second wife.
     Harmon Gaskins’ death was sudden and was deemed by his older children to appear to have been surrounded with peculiar circumstances.  A suspicion arose that he was poisoned by his wife.  This suspicion was nursed and grew in the minds of the children until it was determined several weeks later to have the body exhumed and a post mortem examination of the stomach made.  The State Chemist failed to find any trace of poison and the decision reached that he came to his death by natural causes.  This however engendered much bitterness and ill-feeling between the widow and her step children, and she entered suit for damages for slander.  She was given a verdict for $1600.00.  She later married Alfred Richardson by whom she had four children, and with whom she lived until a few years before her death in 1918.
    Harmon Gaskins enjoyed but few and limited opportunities for obtaining an education.  Nevertheless he was one of the best-posted men on political issues and economics of his time.  He was a liberal subscriber to the newspapers of his day, and he had a good collection of books on history and other subjects of all of which he was a great student. His counsel was found to be safe and his judgement sound; he was often sought after by others.  He was appointed one of the first judges of the Inferior Court of Berrien County, serving many years.  After the court was abolished he served many years as Justice of the Peace.  However, he never sought political office but rather preferred to stay home.  He labored with his own hands as long as he lived, and put in a good day’s work the day before he died.
At the death of his father in Columbia county, Fla., he inherited a large stock of cattle from the estate which ranged in Volusia and St. Johns counties, Fla., and until a few years preceding his death he made trips down there once a year for the purpose of rounding up the cattle, marking and branding the calves, and talking over his business affairs with those he had arranged to look after the herds.  The men were usually men living in the neighborhood there and under their contract were to look personally after the cattle and pen them about three months in the spring and each summer in order to keep them tradable, and sell the beef steers in the summer, and bring the money from the sales to the owner. For this service the herder was to receive every fifth calf raised and these calves were marked and branded for the herder at the April round-up.
I
ncompetent and probably dishonest herders in due time began to appear among those entrusted with the care of the Florida herds, and this with the gradual failing of the range and the development of the country there and the influx of people, all worked to the detriment of the enterprise. The income from the cattle grew less each year until Mr. Gaskins decided to sell what he had left and let Florida cattle growing alone. Thus he sold out about 15 or 20 years before he died. After his death some sixteen hundred dollars in gold and silver coin and several hundred dollars in paper money was divided among his heirs after having lain in his trunk for many years.
    The children by the first wife were:
    (1) Rhoda, born Jan. 17, 18–, married first to Francis Mobley and after his death in the civil war she married Wm. M. Griner.
    (2) Martha, married first to Thomas Connell who was killed in the civil war; second to William Parker who died three months later; third husband, Hardeman Giddens, was a first cousin on her mother’s side.
(3) Nancy, married Solomon Griffin of Berrien county.

    (4) Fisher H., married Polly Ann Griner.
    (5) Harmon Jr.  Never married, died a young man during the war.
    (6) Rachel, married William Griffin.
    (7) Sarah C., married Samuel Griner.
    (8) Thomas H., married Rachel McCutcheon.
    (9) John A., married Mary Bostick.
    The children by the second wife were: Wayne and Jane who died in childhood; Harmon E. Gaskins, never married, living single in east Berrien county; William H. Gaskins  and David D. Gaskins, The latter married Elsie Hughes.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Melissa Gaskins, 1810-1864, wife of Harmon Gaskins, buried at Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Grave of Harmon Gaskins, Gaskins Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones ~ Ray City’s First Elected Mayor

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones, First Elected Mayor of Ray City, GA

Dr. Charles X. Jones

Perhaps the first official resident of the newly incorporated town of  Rays Mill (now Ray City), GA was Dr. Charles X. Jones. Dr. Jones built the first dwelling house within the city limits. This house was located on the lot that surrounds the present Methodist Church. The street which ran past his house, Jones Street, was named in his honor.

Dr. Jones received his medical degree from Georgia University, now known as Georgia Regents University, in 1898. The Standard Medical Directory of North America, 1902 gave this description of the school:

GEORGIA UNIVERSITY, Medical Department, Augusta; Dean Eugene Foster; Medical Academy organized 1829; suspended 1861-65; present title 1873. Admission: Certificate from high school or equivalent. Graduation: Age 21, attendance on three lecture courses of six months each, the last at this school. Fees: $100.00, examination $30.00. Faculty: Professors 10, demonstrator 1, instructors 7. Property $36,000.00. Recognition: I. S. B. H., U. 8. >’. Y. Matriculates last session 145.

In 1900, Dr. Jones was boarding with the James S. Swindle family in Ray’s Mill, GA (nka Ray City).

In an March 10, 1909 Atlanta Constitution article, Eugene Ray testified, “It will not, I believe be improper to say that Dr. C. Jones, an older citizen here, is the leading spirit of this town. Dr. Jones has for years served these people, and has done business and owns considerable of the land around here, and he proposes to help his new town along. He is clever and generous and disposed to serve his community. “

Dr. Jones was one of six men named to serve as councilmen until the first city elections could be organized. Redding D. Swindle was appointed as Mayor. On  election day Jan 10, 1910 it was Dr. Jones who became the first elected mayor of Ray City.

Dr. Jones was the first doctor to set up a practice within the newly incorporated city, although prior to that he and  Dr. Guy Selman had been practicing medicine in the  community, and there were other Medical Men of Ray’s Mill .   Dr. Jones kept offices across the street from his house, in a building located on the south side of what is now Main Street.

In 1912, The Georgia annual : a compendium of useful information about Georgia : needed by every business and professional man in the state. A.B. Caldwell, Atlanta, Ga. listed Jones as one of three doctors in Ray City, the other two being Dr. Guy Selman and Dr. Manning G. Scherrer.

Later, the Jones home was occupied by the Tom Studstill family until it burned in the 1940’s .  In  1976, his  former offices were the home of Mrs. Henry H. Vaughn.

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