Charles Bruner Shaw

Charles Bruner Shaw (1888-1950)

Special thanks to Bryan Shaw for sharing photos and content for this post. Portions reprinted from Shaw Family Newsletter: Charles Bruner Shaw

Born in 1888 in a corn crib on the John Allen farm just outside Ray City, GA, Bruner Shaw would later serve as a police officer for the town. He was a son of Francis Arthur Shaw and Victoria Giddens Knight.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida.

Bruner Shaw in police uniform about 1926. Photographed in Florida. Image courtesy of Bryan Shaw.

After Bruner’s mother died of scarlet fever in 1889, he and his brother Brodie Shaw were raised by their grand parents, Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw.  The home place of  Francis Marion Shaw and Rachel Moore Allen Shaw was just west of Ray City, at Lois, GA just off Possum Branch Road.  Bruner attended school  through the eighth grade at the two-room Pine Grove School. The Pine Grove and Kings Chapel schools were filled at various times with the children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of Rachel and Francis Marion Shaw. 

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

Bruner Shaw circa 1905

At a young age, Bruner Shaw married Mollie Register, daughter of William M. Register (1852-1926) and  Sarah Laura Parrish Register (1854-1933), and granddaughter of Elder Ancil Parrish the old Primitive Baptist preacher of Berrien County.  The Registers were a prominent family of Nashville, GA.  Bruner and Mollie were married on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1905, in a ceremony performed by Bruner’s uncle  Aaron Anderson Knight,  of Ray City, GA. Reverend Knight was  then primitive baptist minister of  Pleasant Church, just west of Ray City, GA.  The bride was one month shy of her 20th birthday; the  groom had just turned 17.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Mollie Register, December 31, 1905.

 

 

Bruner farmed for a while at Ray City, GA near his brother, Brodie Shaw. The census of 1910 shows other neighbors included Mack SpeightsJoseph S. Clements, Bryant Fender, and Frank Gallagher.

A Year of Tragedy

In January, 1911, when his aunt and uncle, Eliza Allen and Sovin J. Knight, moved to Brooks County to a farm on the Little River near Barney, GA, Bruner went along, moving his young family to an adjacent farm. But shortly after their move to Barney, “on April 16, 1911, just 26 days after the purchase of the new farm, Sovin suffered a severe heart attack and died in his new home.

After this family loss  coupled with the death of his infant daughter, Pecola, Bruner Shaw sold his Brooks County farm and returned to Berrien County.  Just six weeks after the sale, his wife, Mollie Register Shaw, died of Scarlet Fever.  She was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Bruner’s widowed aunt Eliza later moved  her daughters, Kathleen and Rachel, back to Berrien County to live in the farm home of her parents  (Bruner’s grandparents) , Rachel Moore Allen Shaw and Francis Marion Shaw, just outside of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

Grave of Mollie Register Shaw (1886-1911), Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA. Image source: Cat

The young widower soon enlisted the help of a teen-age girl to help take care of his children. Fifteen-year-old Charlie Ruth Griffin was the youngest child of William Harrison “Hass” Griffin and Rebecca Jane Parrish, born June 25, 1897 in her family’s cabin on South Old Coffee Road in Berrien County.  Her siblings were Sarah Rebecca, Georgia Lavinia, Mary Ellen, Margaret Frances “Fannie”, Willie Henrietta, William Franklin, and Robert Bruce Griffin.

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Charlie Ruth Griffin while a student at White Pond School. Original image detail courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

As Charlie took care of Bruner’s children they grew very close to their nursemaid. After a very brief courtship, Bruner and Charlie were  married November 23, 1913 at the home of the Reverend Aaron Anderson Knight in Ray City.  Reverend Knight was then serving as the first pastor of the newly organized New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church at Ray City.

 

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

Marriage certificate of Charles Bruner Shaw and Charlie Ruth Griffin, November 24, 1913, Ray City, GA

 

Charlie gave Bruner three more children,  Francis Marion Shaw, Lynette Narcissis Shaw, and Charles Bruner Shaw, Jr.,  and raised Bruner’s two children, Juanita and William Arthur, as if they were her own.

Bruner and Charlie Shaw were a part of society and leisure at Ray City, GA and Berrien County.  In February, 1914 Bruner was among the people from Ray City attending the carnival at Nashville.  Others from Ray City included  Annie Mae Carter, Margie Dasher, Pearl Hardie Knight, Mr. and Mrs. G. V. Harvie, W. H. Luckie, George Norton, J. J. and J. S. Clements.

In 1914, Charlie Ruth and her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw, were also seen at the Mayhaw Lake Resort on Park Street near Ray City. Mayhaw Lake was “The Place” in Berrien County for more than a decade. It was built in 1914 by Elias Moore “Hun”  Knight, of Ray City. The amusement park was such a popular spot that the Georgia & Florida Railroad gave special rates for picnic parties from all points on their line. People from all over the area would journey to Mayhaw Lake, especially on holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day. A boarding house [later the home of Effie Guthrie Knight] up the road towards Ray City was opened up by the Paul Knight family   specifically to provide lodging for the Mayhaw crowd. 

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

Posing in front of the roller skating rink at Mayhaw Lake in 1914, left to right: Burton Moore; Tom Parrish; Manson Johnson; unidentified lady; Charlie Ruth Shaw with her husband, Bruner Shaw, and daughter, Juanita Shaw; lady; Viola Smith Davis; lady; Mrs. Burton Moore and daughters, Kate Hazen, Thelma Register; Lonnie Smith; boy; man; Shellie Ziegler; and Jessie Ziegler Touchton. Members of the band in the background include: Rossie Swindle, Glenn Johnson, Lonnie Swindle, and J. H. Swindle.

It was about this time that Bruner began his life-long pursuit of the law enforcement profession.  Bruner entered police work through occasional employment as a deputy at Ray City.  At that time the Police Chief at Ray City was Bruner’s cousin, Cauley Shaw.

An incident report in the Nashville Herald, October 9, 1914:

Considerable excitement was occasioned here Monday by a report that Cauley and Bruner Shaw and two other young men of Ray’s Mill had been shot about twelve miles down the Valdosta Road. Several gentlemen from here [Nashville, GA] went in an automobile. But when they reached the scene, they found that the wounds were not serious. A negro for whom they had a warrant, shot at them with a shotgun loaded with bird shot.

The Tifton Gazette also reported the incident:

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette reports Bruner shot while serving an arrest warrant, October 6, 1914

Tifton Gazette
October 16, 1914

C. B. Shaw, C.H. Jones and Charley Thomas were shot by a negro named John Williams, near Rays Mill Oct. 6, says the Milltown Advocate. Thomas has some trouble with the negro about hauling some cotton and the negro fired at him. He went to Rays Mill, secured a warrant and returned for the negro. The negro opened fire and slightly wounded three of the party who returned from Rays Mill with Thomas. The negro escaped.

Over the next few years, Bruner did stints in the police departments of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA and at Willacoochee.  By early 1919, Bruner had been hired by Berrien County Sheriff J. V. Nix as a deputy at Nashville, GA.

Until 1919, most of the activities of a peace officer involved chasing down petty thieves, and raiding an occasional “skins” (gambling) game…

Production and consumption of moonshine – illegal liquor – was also a problem for law officers. State-wide prohibition in Georgia had passed in 1907, with Ray City’s own representative Jonathan Perry Knight among those leading the charge.

However, with the passage of the 18th amendment to the Constitution (prohibition), a whole new illicit business was the target of he county sheriff and his deputies. “Blind tigers”, as they were commonly referred, brewed alcohol in what was known as a “lard can” still, using syrup and meal processed through a copper worm. The product was a high explosive liquor with enough alcohol in it to burn like gasoline. Drinking of such had been known to cause blindness, if not death. Thus the name “blind tiger.”

By 1919,  reports of drunkenness and lawlessness in Ray City were making newspapers throughout the section. There were plenty of “blind tigers” running stills and selling bootleg liquor in Berrien County and Ray City, and gambling, too, despite the efforts of lawmen like Bruner Shaw, Cauley Shaw,  Gus Clements, Frank Allen, Marcus Allen, Jim Griner, Wesley Griner, and W.W. Griner.

In April, 1919, part-time deputy Bruner Shaw was again shot by an assailant.

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

1919 Tifton Gazette reports Bruner Shaw shot by John Harris

Tifton Gazette
May 2, 1919

Shaw Shot by Negro

Nashville, Ga., April 23- Bruner Shaw, a well known young farmer who has served as special deputy sheriff a numbWer of times, was shot from ambush Saturday at the home of Will McSwain, a negro farmer living near Lois, this county. Shaw recognized his assailant as John Harris, a young negro whom he had arrested at Adel several months ago on a misdemeanor charge. The wouldbe murderer used a 23-calibre Winchester rifle, and the bullet entered the left side of Shaw’s head. He was able to come to Nashville today and swear out warrants against the negro, who is in jail here, having been captured by Sheriff Nix.

 

While pursuing his law enforcement career in other towns, Bruner Shaw maintained his Ray City connections. In 1920 Census records show Bruner and Charlie were residing in Ray City. According to Bryan Shaw,  Bruner’s last child, Charles Bruner, Jr., was born on February 6, 1920, in a home on Trixie Street behind the Marion Shaw home in Ray City. Bruner and Charlie resided in the home for three more years, participating regularly in the events of the community, especially dances and song fests.

Nashville Herald
March 15, 1923

News from Ray City—Everybody that wants to laugh as they haven’t since the war, come out on “Dad’s Night” . . . Last but not least will be some very fine singing by several of our gentlemen singers. They alone will be worth your time, should we have no other attraction. Mr. Bruner Shaw has promised us they will give at least four selections.

Later that year, Bruner Shaw was present at the startup of Ray City’s first power plant.

Sometime that fall Bruner, Charlie Ruth, and their five children moved to Polk County, Florida, where Bruner was hired as a deputy.  There was steady work tracking down bootleggers and their moonshine stills. Details of  big raids appeared in the papers:

The Polk County Recorder
March 2, 1924

“With drawn guns and expecting a battle to the death, sixteen deputies from Sheriff Logan’s force [and two federal agents] surrounded an abandoned sawmill camp in Eastern Polk County. Deputies Hatcher and Shaw volunteered to be a party to call for the surrender of the men sought.”

•∏•

Tampa Tribune
March 31, 1924

Lakeland Deputies Catch Moonshiners

Still of 100-Gallon Capacity Is Haul; Several Arrests Are Made

(Special to the Tribune)
Lakeland, March 30. – Lying in the woods near Bowling Green, Deputies [Newt] Hatcher and Shaw of the sheriff’s office Friday night watched a suspected bootlegger uncover two gallons of moonshie near the hiding place. Floyd Douglas, it is alleged, was getting the liquor to sell to Federal Officer Standau, unaware of the officer’s identity. Five gallons more were found in a search, and Douglas and the liquor were taken into custody. This is said to be Douglas’ second offense.
Just before the Bowling Green visit, the three officials made a big haul at Mulberry, here a 100-gallon copper still, 18 barrels of mash and six gallons of ‘shine were found in a swamp a mile from town. A negro man and woman were arrested as operators of the still.

•∏•

The Tampa Times
April 19, 1924

Raids Discourage Makers of ‘Shine

(Special to The Times.)
Bartow, April 19. – When the home of a Mrs. Beaumont, just over the Polk county line in Hillsborough county, was raided Wednesday the officers making the raid captured 244 bottles of 4 1/2 percent beer and three half pint bottles of shine. The arrest was made by Polk county Deputy Sheriffs Hatcher and Shaw with Federal prohibition Officers Standau and Dugan, who took the prisoner and evident to Tampa.
The recent series of captures of “shine” outfits conducted by Sheriff Logan and his deputies seems to have discouraged the moonshining industry in Polk county, according to reports from the sheriff’s office and judging from the record of convictions of violators of the prohibition laws in the criminal court combined with the sentences imposed by Judge Olliphant it seems highly probably that bootleggers of Polk county will decided that business isn’t so good in these parts.

In July, 1924 Bruner served as Night Police Chief in Haines City, FL. His friend and colleague, Newt Hatcher, was the Day Police Chief.

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

Bruner Shaw in front of his squad car at Haines City Florida. Image detail courtesy of Bryan Shaw

The exploits of Officer Shaw were occasionally reported in the Tampa Tribune.  On December 21, 1925, the paper reported C. B. Shaw was involved in a gun battle with a murder suspect.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

December 21, 1925 C. B. Shaw in gun battle with Odom Dunlap, alleged murderer of Owen Higgins.

Later, Bruner Shaw served as chief of police at Frostproof, FL.  A high profile case while Bruner Shaw as chief of police at Frostproof Florida was the kidnapping of  E. L. Mercer, well-to-do citrus grower.

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

June 6, 1928 Tampa Tribune reports Frostproof, FL police chief Bruner Shaw investigating kidnapping of E.L. Mercer

In the fall of 1929, the Shaw family returned to Berrien County, GA where Bruner sharecropped the John Strickland property on the old Valdosta highway. While the family went about bringing in crops of corn, tobacco and cotton, and the children [Marion, Lynette, and Charles, Jr.] were attending school at Kings Chapel, Bruner found temporary employment with the Berrien County Sheriff and the Ray City Police.

By November, 1930 Bruner Shaw was named Chief of Police in Alapaha, GA and moved the family there. He was once again again in pursuit of “blind tigers.”

Nashville Herald,
December 18 , 1930

Last Wednesday afternoon Chief C. B. Shaw and Deputy Sheriff Wesley Griner and W. W. Griner went over near Glory and went down in the river swamp about one mile west of Glory and found 180 gallons of corn mash. There was no still found with this buck. The officers poured out the contents and busted up the barrels. The people of Alapaha are pleased with the work of Mr. C. B. Shaw since he has been Chief of Police. We all hope that Mr. Shaw will stay on here as he is doing such good work and helping to clean up the community by catching blind tigers.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River . Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

Moonshine still bust about 1930 near Glory, GA on the Alapaha River. Chief of Police, Bruner Shaw, 2nd from the right. Other identified is Brooker Shaw, brother of Chief Shaw, 2nd from the left.

It was the midst of the Great Depression, and though his work was appreciated, the pay was meager.  In the summer of 1931,  Bruner removed his family from Berrien County for last time and the Shaw family moved back to Frostproof.

The Shaw Family Newsletter: CHARLES BRUNER SHAW, SR: Have Badge, Will Travel, by Bryan Shaw, relates the story of Bruner Shaw’s life, law, business, and family.

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Mrs. Elizabeth Patten dies at Ray City

Elizabeth Register Patten (1828-1916)

Elizabeth Register Patten. Image Source: Terri Hoye

Elizabeth Register Patten. Image Source: Terri Hoye

According to Nell Patten Roquemore’s Roots, Rocks, and Recollections,  Elizabeth Register was a daughter of Samuel Register, of Registerville, GA (now Stockton, GA).  On May 4, 1845, she   married William Patten, son of James and Elizabeth Patten who were pioneer settlers of present day Lanier County (then Lowndes County).  The bride was  17-years-old and the 25-year-old groom was a Justice of the Peace in Lowndes County. The couple made their home near Ten Mile Creek in the area later known as Watson Grade.   In 1854, William Patten was a constituting member of Empire Church in that section. For 72 years Mr. & Mrs. William Patten together raised crops, livestock, children, grandchildren and great grandchildren until William’s death in 1907.

Children of Elizabeth Register and William Patten:

  1. James Irvin Patten  (1846 – 1935)
  2. Lewis C Patten (1847 – 1890)
  3. William C “Babe” Patten (1849 – 1944)
  4. George W L Patten (1852 – 1864)
  5. Henry R Patten (1854 – 1873)
  6. Sylvester M Patten (1856 – 1940)
  7. Elizabeth Roena Patten (1858 – 1951) married Levi J. Clements
  8. Samuel Register Patten (1860 – 1938)
  9. Marcus Sheridan Patten (1861 – 1950)
  10. C. Matilda Patten (1864 – 1893)
  11. Mary Jane “Mollie” Patten (1867 – 1955 ) married John Thomas “J.T.” Webb (1863-1924)
  12. Edward L. “Mack” Patten (1869 – 1928)

 

It was March 2, 1916 that Marcus Sheridan Patten and his wife, Mittie C. Walker, received word that his mother was on her deathbed in Ray City, GA.

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 3, 1916 -- page 6

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 3, 1916 — page 6

Tifton Gazette
March 3, 1916 — page 6

Mr. and Mrs. M. S. Patten left this morning for Ray City, where they were called to the bedside of Mr. Patten’s mother, who is very ill.

Mrs. Elizabeth Patten died March 2, 1916 at the home of her daughter Mary J. “Mollie” Patten Webb.

 

1916-mar-3-tifton-gaz-elizabeth-patten-obit

Mrs. Elizabeth Patten

Mrs. Elizabeth Patten, mother of Hon. M. S. Patten, of Tifton, died at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. T. Webb, at Ray City, in Berrien county, Thursday morning at 4 o’clock. 
     Mrs. Patten was 87 years old and the widow of one of South Georgia’s pioneers.  She leaves eight children, six sons and two daughters; Mack Sam, Babe Bess, Marcus and Irvin, Mrs. J. T. Webb, and Mrs. L. J. Clements, Sr.
    She was a saintly woman and goes to her reward with ripe years behind her full of usefulness to family and community.  Her husband died several years ago and since then she has made her home with her children, spending some time here [Tifton] a few weeks ago.
    Mr. Patten left Thursday morning for Ray City upon receipt of news of her death.  She will probably be buried at Old Union church, near Milltown, Friday.

 

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 10, 1916 -- page 8

Tifton Gazette, Mar. 10, 1916 — page 8

Tifton Gazette
Mar. 10, 1916 — page 8

Mrs. Elizabeth Patten

From the Ray City Courier.
   Mrs. Elizabeth Patten, 88 years of age, passed away Thursday morning at the home of her daughter, Mrs. J. T. Webb. Mrs. Patten has been a long resident of Berrien county, and at the time of her death was the oldest known woman in South Georgia. 
   She was the head of a great family, representing the fourth generation, having great grand children.  She was a member of the Primitive Baptist church from her childhood and lived a faithful Christian life.  She leaves eight children, S.R., E.L., M.S., J.I., S.M., and W. C. Patten; Mrs. Levi Clements, Mrs. J.T. Webb and a host of relatives and friends.
Services were held Friday morning.  The remains were laid to rest in the old Union church cemetery.

Grave of Elizabeth Register Patten, Union Church Cemetery, Lakeland, GA

Grave of Elizabeth Register Patten, Union Church Cemetery, Lakeland, GA

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Ray City Home of Perry Lee Pittman and Inez Webb

Ray City, GA

Perry L. Pittman and family lived in this Ray City, GA home in the 1940s.

Perry L. Pittman and family rented this Ray City, GA home in the 1930s and 1940s.

Perry L. Pitman was a son of Louranie W. “Rainey” Register and John Edward Pittman.  He was born December 3, 1898 in Clinch County, GA and lived for many years in Berrien County, GA.  As a young man, Pittman was of medium height and medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.  He first married Annie Jewel Fountain, on July 27, 1921 in Berrien County, GA.  She was daughter of William E. Fountain and Nancy Elizabeth Bradford.  After Annie’s death on July 17, 1934, Perry L. Pittman raised their children on his own of several years.

On November 27, 1935 Pittman married Vida Inez Williams,  the widow of Fred Williams.  She  was born August 9, 1903, a daughter of James Alford Webb and Pearlie Ann Register.  For a time, in the late 1930s and 1940s Perry and Inez Pittman made their home in Ray City, GA. Perry was a patrolman for the highway department, working 60 hours a week for an annual salary of $1200 dollars.

1940 census enumeration of Perry Lee Pitman and family in Ray City, GA.

1940 census enumeration of Perry Lee Pitman and family in Ray City, GA.

During this time Perry Lee Pittman also served as the State Representative from Berrien County, GA. In the state legislature he became noted for his opposition to the Grandfather Clause, the  Georgia Constitutional Amendment that violated the voting rights of African-Americans in Georgia. He was also noted for his opposition to religious ceremonies involving the practice of handling live rattlesnakes.

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Other public servants:

Samuel Register and the East Florida Militia

According to Folks Huxford, Samuel Register came from Appling County to Lowndes County, GA about 1826 and settled in the 10th Land District near Possum Branch, not too far from the homestead of Levi J. Knight and the future site of Ray City, GA. Samuel Register’s place later became the farm of Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw.

Samuel Register was born in Sampson County, North Carolina on December 1, 1786, almost three years before that state would ratify the U.S. Constitution. He was a son of Dorcas and John Register.

Some time before 1804 Samuel Register came with his family to Bulloch County, GA where he apparently made his home for some 20 years, although there is no records to show that he ever owned land there. In  April of 1806 he married Elizabeth Skinner, a native of South Carolina.

When the U.S. went to war with Britain from 1812-1815 in response to British actions against American expansion and trade, it appears that  Samuel Register, like other Wiregrass pioneers (see Dryden Newbern)  joined the  Georgia Militia.   In the War of 1812 the Georgia Militia was occupied with three main theaters of operation: the Creek War of 1813-14, the British blockade, and the British occupation of St. Marys and Cumberland Island in 1814-15.  British  control of St. Marys, GA would have disturbed the economy of the entire Wiregrass region, interrupting trade on the Alachua Trail which ran from the Altamaha River through Centerville, GA, then across the St. Marys River and into  East Florida. The resistance of the Georgia Militia against the British incursions is described  in the New Georgia Encyclopedia  article on the War of 1812.

After the War of 1812, Samuel and Elizabeth remained in Bulloch county. GA until about 1824 when they moved to Appling County, and then on to Lowndes county in 1826.  In 1827,  Samuel Register  received a draw in the land lotteries for his service as a soldier in the War of 1812.

The land lotteries, legitimized by questionable and coercive treaties, continued the encroachment by settlers on the ancestral lands of Native Americans in Georgia, inevitably leading to conflict.  In Florida, hostilities were greatly escalated in December 1835 by the Dade Massacre, where Seminole Indians resisting forced removal to the West   wiped out a force of 110 regular army troops under the command of Major Francis Langhorn Dade.  When conflict between the Wiregrass pioneers and the resistant Indians erupted in 1836, local militia fought engagements in Berrien county.

In the summer of 1836, a company of militia under Capt. Levi J. Knight of near Ray City was sent to protect the settlers from marauding Indians on their way to join the Seminoles in Florida.  When a party of Indians plundered the plantation of William Parker, near Milltown, the militia pursued them N. E. across the county overtaking them near Gaskins Pond not far from the Alapaha River.  Several were killed and some injured as the Indians fled across the river.  A few days later the militia encountered more Indians at Brushy Creek and ran them off.  That was the last real battle with the Indians in this section.

Across the state line in Florida,  actions against Indians were being fought by militia on a regular basis. The Battle of San Felasco Hammock was fought  September 18, 1836, when a force of 25 US Army Regulars and 100 horse-mounted militia from Fort Gilleland, with 25 armed residents of Newnansville, FL engaged and routed about 300 Indians led by Seminole Chief John Jumper. Fort Gilleland, a picketed fortification located south of the Santa Fe River at Newnansville in present day Alachua County, FL, was one of a string of forts stretching from Jacksonville, FL to Clay’s Landing, at the mouth of the Suwanee River.  Newnansville,  the largest inland town in East Florida, was strategically located at the junction of the Jacksonville road and the Bellamy Road which ran from St. Augustine west to Tallahassee and Pensacola. Newnansville was about about 80 miles southeast of Troupville,  in Lowndes County, GA.

In the spring of 1837 militia troops from Lowndes county were sent across the state line to join the forces at Fort Gilleland:

Jacksonville Courier
Jacksonville, May 11, 1837

—Extract of a letter from Col. Mills, to the Editor, dated Fort Gilliland, May 8.

“Major Staniford, with two companies of the 2d Infantry, arrived here yesterday in obedience to orders from Maj. Gen. Jesup, from Lowndes county, Georgia, and are here encamped, awaiting orders.” 

The following summer, in 1837, Samuel Register and other Lowndes county men went south to join the East Florida Volunteer militia to fight against the Indians on the Florida frontier. According to the records of the Florida Department of Military Affairs, Register traveled first to Fort Palmetto, on the Suwanee River at Fanning Springs, FL.

Samuel Register and his sons, David and John,   served with “Captain John J. Johnson’s Company of the 2nd Regiment, East Florida Mounted Volunteers, commanded by Colonel William J. Mills, ordered into the service of the United States by Major General Thomas J. Jessup under the Act of Congress approved May 23d 1836, for six months from the 16th day of June 1837 to the 18th day of December 1837.  Company enrolled at Fort Palmetto, Florida, and marched sixty miles to place of rendezvous at Fort Gilliland, Fla. Company mustered in by Lieutenant W. Wall, 3d Artillery.”

His son-in-law, John Tomlinson, and two other Registers in this same service and company: Samuel Register Jr and John Register, Jr..  Seaborn Lastinger, of Lowndes County, served as a private; he would be shot for desertion during the Civil War. James B. Johnson and Young Johnson , grand uncles of JHP Johnson of Ray City, served in the Florida Drafted Mounted Militia.

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

Muster Roll of East Florida Volunteers

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n71/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

http://archive.org/stream/floridamilitiamu05morr#page/n72/mode/1up

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson's Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Muster Roll of Captain John J. Johnson’s Mounted Company of the 2d Regiment of East Florida Volunteers, 2d Brigade of Florida Militia, Commanded by Colonel William J. Mills.

Samuel Register was honorably discharged at Newnansville in December, 1837. He subsequently “served another enlistment in the Indian War under the same Capt Johnson (April 1, 1838-July 31, 1838). He also served a third term under this same Capt Johnson in the Georgia mounted Militia (Aug 25, 1840-Oct 18, 1840). On his Bounty Land application dated Nov 23, 1850, he was granted 160 acres of land for this service. His son-in-law John Tomlinson (husband of Zilpha) who served in the same military unit was granted 80 acres of land for his services”

Between 1840 and 1842, Samuel Register sold out his home-place in the 10th District, and moved from Possum Branch to the 11th Land District where he acquired Land Lot 500.   This lot was in that part of Lowndes county that was cut into the new county of Clinch in 1850, and in 1920 was cut out of Clinch into Lanier County.

In 1856, it was a great boon to Register when the Atlantic & Gulf railroad was charted  to run   from a connection with the Savannah, Albany & Gulf railroad at Screven, by way of his land to Thomasville. But when the surveyors for the new railroad  selected a route through Valdosta bypassing Troupville, that old town was doomed.   Register had a portion of Lot 500 platted into town lots and founded the town of “Registerville.” Although when the railroad people came through, they changed the name to “Stockton”, in honor of one of their contractors, a Mr. Stockton, who had charge of the road construction.

Children of Samuel Register and Elizabeth Skinner:

  1. Zilpha Register, born Feb. 4, 1807, married her first cousin John Tomlinson.
  2. Eady (Edith) Register, born Mar. 1, 1809, married Thomas Mathis Nov. 1, 1826 in Lowndes County.
  3. Guilford Register, born Jan. 7, 1811, married Priscilla Ann DeVane.
  4. David Register, born Apr. 10, 1813, married Matilda McDaniel of Bulloch County.
  5. William Register, born Sept. 24, 1814, married Luraney Harnage from Liberty County.
  6. John Register,  born June 10, 1819, married 1st Elizabeth Cowart, 2nd.Mary Ann Fiveash.
  7. Rebecca Register, born Apr. 5, 1821, married Reverend Hillery Cowart of Echols County.
  8. Phoebe Register, born Aug. 15, 1823, married Zachariah Lee of Clinch County.
  9. Jincy Register, born June 15, 1824, married Moses C. Lee of Berrien County.
  10. Ivy Register, born Apr. 22, 1825, married 1st Leta Lee, married 2nd Lavinia Arnold
  11. Samuel E. Register, born Sept. 16, 1826, married 1st Seneth Lee, married 2nd Mary Hutto, married 3rd Josephine Guthrie, lived in Berrien County.
  12. Elizabeth Register, born Aug. 21, 1828, married William Patten of present Lanier County.
  13. Reubin Register, born Nov. 25, 1830, married Harriet Brown, lived in present Berrien co.
  14. Martha Register, born Dec. 18, 1831, married Hillery P. Mathis of present Lanier co.

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Historic Marker Placed at Site of New Ramah Church

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

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

SITE OF NEW RAMAH
PRIMITIVE BAPTIST CHURCH
1913-2000

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

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

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

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

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

Obituary of Adolph Register

Adolpus M. Register, son of Annis Tomlinson and Moses C. Register, was raised in the Mud Creek District of Clinch County, GA. He was born October 31, 1888 in Georgia.  On June 18, 1916 he married 16 year-old Margaret Smith.   As a young man, Adolph Register worked in Enigma, GA as a Depot Agent for the Atlantic Coastline Railroad.  He was a tall man with medium build, brown eyes and brown hair.  In the 1920s he was working at the railroad station in Baconton, GA where he and his wife rented a house on Railroad Street.  By 1930 the Registers returned to Enigma, GA where Adolph tried farming for a while.  Eventually he went back to the transportation industry, working again for the railroad and later for the airlines. Around 1963, A.M. Register moved to Ray City, GA where others of the family connection were residing.

Adolphus M. Register (1888-1965), Fender Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia, USA

Adolphus M. Register (1888-1965), Fender Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier, Georgia, USA

Clinch County News
Friday, Aug 6, 1965

Adolph Register Died, Nashville

    NASHVILLE –  Adolph Register, 76, died at the Berrien County Hospital here Thursday last week after a lengthy illness.
    He was born in Clinch County and had spent many years with the Atlantic Coastline Railroad and the Pan American Airlines.  He had lived at Ray City for the past year and a half.
    He was a member of the Railroad Brotherhood and the Methodist Church.
    Survivors include his wife; a son, A.M. Register, Jr. of Cincinnati, Ohio; a stepdaughter, Mrs. E. L. Mobley of Ray City, a stepson, Bernard Johnson  of Ray City; a sister, Mrs. Will Smith of Homerville; a brother, Mose Register of Milledgeville.  Three grand children and a number of nieces and nephews also survive.
    Funeral services were held at 4:00 p. m. at the Ray City Baptist Church.  Burial was in Fender Cemetery near Lakeland with Music Funeral Home of Lakeland in charge of arrangements.

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Ray City Women Among Dress Revue Winners

An old newspaper clipping covered Ray City women modeling the latest fashions.

Home Demonstration Council Dress Revue, Berrien County, GA

Home Demonstration Council Dress Revue, Berrien County, GA

BERRIEN HOME DEMONSTRATION COUNCIL DRESS REVUE WINNERS
Mrs. J. R. Johnson, Ray City, Suit; Mrs. R. A. Webb, Stylish Stouts, New Lois; Mrs. W. E. Griffin,  Street, Flat Creek; Mrs. E. L. Mobley, Ray City, County winner; Mrs. Terrell Swindle, Allenville, Church Dress; Mrs. Wallace Conner, Avera Mill, Special Occasion.  Mrs. Mobley will represent Berrien County in state wide dress revue August 27 at the State H. D. Council meeting to be held at the University of Georgia Campus, Athens.  Mrs. Conner is alternate.

Mrs. R. A. Webb = Pearlie Ann Register, daughter of Marion Register and Elizabeth L. Parrish Register, and a granddaughter of Ansel Parrish and Molcy Knight. She and her husband, James Alford Webb, lived many years in Ray City and Berrien County.

Mrs. Wallace Conner = Bonnie Lewis, daughter of J. Lonnie Lewis and Mittylene Phillips Lewis. Her husband, Wallace Donald Conner,  was the last miller to operate Avera Mill. He was a son of Ray City residents James Wilson Lewis and Pearlie Sutton Conner.

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Lorton W. Register ~ Killed in Action, WWI

Lorton Webster Register of Ray City, Georgia.  KIA, WWI.

Lorton Webster Register of Ray City, Georgia. KIA, WWI.

Lorton Webster Register, of Ray City, GA entered World War I military service as a private in 1917.

Lorton W. Register was born in Hahira, GA about 1892, a son of John R. Register.  His early childhood was spent in Hahira.  Some time before 1917, the Register family moved about thirteen miles to the northeast to Ray City, GA.  During WWI, Lorton went into the Army.   The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917 and on April 11 Lorton and his brother, Balley Register,  both volunteered for service.  Lorton was sent to Ft. Thomas, Kentucky where he was inducted on April 15, 1917.  He was 25 years old at the time of enlistment.

Fort Thomas was  designated as a recruit depot. Recruits arrived as civilians and were processed into uniformed soldiers  with assignments to official training locations.

Service records show Lorton W. Register was attached to the following companies:

Company F, 7th Infantry  to June 10, 1917;
Company F, 61st Infantry  to Aug. 10, 1917;
Company M, 18th Infantry  to Nov. 23, 1917;
Company I, 18th Infantry  to death.

1917 photo postcard showing newly-inducted soldiers departing Fort Thomas, Kentucky for their training assignments. The back of the card is cancelled by the Columbia machine cancel of Newport, Kentucky (the town nearest Fort Thomas), dated August 11, 1917. Photo and caption courtesy of Bob Swanson

1917 photo postcard showing newly inducted soldiers departing Fort Thomas, Kentucky for their training assignments. The back of the card is cancelled by the Columbia machine cancel of Newport, Kentucky (the town nearest Fort Thomas), dated August 11, 1917. Photo and caption courtesy of Bob Swanson

Private Register served in France in the early part of the war. In March, 1918 he saw action while on duty at a listening post at the front lines at St. Mihiel, France.  After the engagement, he was reported “Missing in Action.”

More than a year later it was determined that he had been killed by a shell fragment during action on March 1, 1918.  His father, John R. Register, received the official notification of his son’s death at his home in Ray City.  The report of Georgia casualties appeared in the Atlanta Constitution.

WWI Doughboy Monument, Nashville, GA.  The name of Lorton W. Register appears on the base of the monument, along with the names of other soldiers of Berrien County, GA who gave their lives in the war.

WWI Doughboy Monument, Nashville, GA. The name of Lorton W. Register appears on the base of the monument, along with the names of other soldiers of Berrien County, GA who gave their lives in the war.

Atlanta Constitution
May 29, 1919

ON OUR NATION’S ROLL OF HONOR

The names of twelve Georgia boys appear in today’s official casualty list, which contains the names of 527 more American heroes who were victims on the fields of France.
    The Georgians are, killed in action previously reported missing: Privates Albert L. Carter, Ellaville: Lorton W. Register, Ray City.
    Returned to duty, previously reported missing in action:
Privates Dave Akins, Vienna; Elder Grace, Elko.
    Wounded in Action: Lieutenants George A. Roberts, 451 Center street, Macon; Gardie Nix, 70 North Main street, Gainesville; Sergeants William C. Graham, 521 Lee Street, Atlanta; Jabez P. Kelly, Mystic; Corporal Walter S. Robinson, Waco; Privates Dallas T. Townley, Lawrenceville; Lawrence P. Woolf, Morrow.
    Died of Disease:  Private Elijah Mealer, Cartecay.

Lorton W. Register is among the soldiers honored at St. Mihiel American Cemetery, Thiaucourt, France; his name appears there on the Tablets of the Missing.

American Cemetery, St. Mihiel, France as it appeared in 1921.

American Cemetery, St. Mihiel, France as it appeared in 1921.

The St. Mihiel Cemetery is at Thiaucourt, a shadeless plain about 25 kilometers northeast of St. Mihiel. Here are gathered the bodies of those who fell in the reduction of the dangerous St. Mihiel Salient. The Memorial Highway, in its loop southward from St. Mihiel through Toul and up to Thiaucourt passes near Vaucouleurs and Domremy, associated with the birth and life of Joan of Arc.     –1922 Annual report By American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society

Later, permanent grave markers and a monument were added to the cemetery.

 American Cemetery at St Mihiel, France.

American Cemetery at St Mihiel, France.

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The Grand Jury of 1868, Berrien County, Georgia

Moses C. Lee,  his brother-in-law Samuel E. Register,  and Jonathan D. Knight, all early settlers of the Ray City area, served together on the 1868 term of the Berrien County Grand Jury, as did Benjamin Perry Jones, who would later engage in banking at Ray City and Valdosta, GA

The Court of 1868 was convened at a time following the Civil War, when the business of the county was in disarray.  A Berrien County Centennial edition of the Nashville Herald observed in retrospect, “Pillage and plunder, indignities and overbearing had galled the necks of Berrien County taxpayers for  three years or more; the loss of their boys on the front was still a cankering sore in the hearts of the fathers and mothers bereaved by the war’s toll on human life and wanton destruction of property.”  The county government had reached a financially unsound state and the taxpayers wanted an accounting.

The Grand Jury was faced with investigating the cause of the fiscal problems. The members were frustrated and perhaps contentious in reaching a conclusion in the matter, and their deliberations were inordinately extended. Jury members were at odds over who was to blame for it all.  Eventually, Judge Hansell, the presiding magistrate, adjourned the Court even though the Grand Jury had not concluded.

The Judge’s action  led the members of the Grand Jury to make a General Presentment that was harshly critical and highly publicized. This was despite the fact that when the court was convened, the Judge had notified the jury of his intention to adjourn on schedule that he might return to the bedside of his wife, who was in poor health.

The minutes of the court provide the following:

“We the jury chosen, selected and sworn to serve at this court respectfully ask for the appointment of a judge that would do justice to our county.

” We denounce Judge Hansell for adjourning the court  and leaving the business of the grand jury unfinished, and in such condition that it is impossible for us to proceed further.

“We denounce the course of all our county officers who are connected with the financial matter of our county, in that we find it impossible to make a proper investigation on account of the negligence of the officers.

“We, finding it impossible to arrive at the financial condition of the county, we recommend that no extra tax be levied on the county till the county records of the treasurer be ascertained by the succeeding grand jury, of the county.

“We respectfully ask the Clerk of the Court to place on the minutes these resolutions and to furnish Maj. Pendleton with a copy of same for publication.”

D.G. Hutchison, Forman
Thos. D. Lindsey,
P. Tison,
Malcolm McMillan,
B.P. Jones,
A. H. Turner,
Moses C. Lee,
M. C. Futch,
J. B. Giddens,
M. Tison,
John McMillan, Jr.,
John Hesters,
Wiley Tison,
H. B. Dodson,
S. E. Register,
J.D. Knight,
T. Mathis,
John G. Taylor,
T.J. Lindsey.
William Folsom

Major Pendleton was the editor of the Valdosta Times.  The jury’s denouncement was published in the Times, followed by a backlash against the jurors – who received  “the indignant criticisms this episode created, so great was the love and esteem which was extended for Judge Hansell,”   by many citizens in the Southern Circuit.

It is said that many of the jurors of the 1868 term later regretted their actions in regards to Judge Hansell.  And while this smirch on his record may be preserved in the minutes, it was far outweighed by another 35 years spent on the bench following the 1868 term.

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