Thomas R. Cox and The Bank of Willacoochee

Thomas R. Cox grew up at Ray’s Mill, GA (now Ray City) and later returned as a resident. He was only educated through the 8th grade, but made a successful career in bookkeeping.  In the early 1900s he went to Willacoochee, GA to live with his uncle Gid Gasksins and to work  in Gaskin’s general merchandise store as a salesman.

Within a few years Thomas secured a situation as Bookkeeper for the Bank of Willacoochee. The Bank of Willacoochee was chartered in 1900 with $25,000 capital investment. The Cashier of the bank was George F. McCranie, son of Malcolm McCranie who fought in the 1836 Battle of Brushy Creek.

All seemed well until the morning of Thursday, May 4, 1916 when Thomas R. Cox failed to show up for work at the bank.  With Cox’s unexplained disappearance Cashier George F. McCranie suspected the worst, and the bank was closed pending an investigation by the state bank examiner.

Over the next two months some details unfolded, not only in local newspapers, but in papers  as far away as Honolulu.

1916-may-12-tg-bank-of-willacoochee

Tifton Gazette
May 12, 1916

Bank of Willacoochee

Closed Pending Examination of the Books by Authorities

    Willacoochee, Ga., May 9. –  The doors of the Bank of Willacoochee of this place were closed Monday and the institution is in the hands of the state bank examiner.
     T. R. Cox, who was bookkeeper, has been missing since last Thursday. Soon after his departure, it was reported that George F. McCranie, cashier, discovered that errors had been made in keeping the books, and immediately wired for experts to examin into the affairs of the bank. The examination has continued through yesterday and today.
     Later reports say the errors in the books are not as great as reported and that the bank is in good shape.

—–♦—–

1916-may-17-ATL-thomas-r-cox

Thomas R. Cox of Willacoochee, GA sought by police. Atlanta Constitution, May 17, 1916

 

Atlanta Constitution
May 17, 1916

Police Asked to Find Missing Bookkeeper

________________

    Police Chief W. M. Mayo was requested to have his men be on the lookout for Thomas R. Cox, former bookkeeper of the Bank of Willacoochee, Ga., who was reported to have embezzled the bank of several thousand dollars.
    George F. McCranie, cashier of the institution, called at the police station and told Chief Mayo that the officials of the bank offered a reward of $500 for the former bookkeeper’s arrest.

 

Honolulu Star-Bulleting reports arrest of Thomas R. Cox, bookkeeper of the Bank of Willachoochee

Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports arrest of Thomas R. Cox, bookkeeper of the Bank of Willachoochee

Honolulu Star-Bulletin
June 19, 1916

Charged with the embezzlement of $30,000 from the Bank of Willacoochee, Ga., Thomas R. Cox, aged 28, was recently arrested in New York.

 

 

Tifton Gazette, May 25, 1916 reports Thomas R. Cox, formerly of Ray City, GA, arrested in New York.

Tifton Gazette, May 25, 1916 reports Thomas R. Cox, formerly of Ray City, GA, arrested in New York.

Tifton Gazette
May 26 1916

COX CAUGHT IN NEW YORK

New York, May 25, — Thomas R. Cox, Age 28, was arrested here today charged with embezzling $30,000 from the Bank of Willacoochee, of Willacoochee, Ga.

     The Bank of Willacoochee, considered one of the soundest financial institutions in that section of the state, was closed May 8th following the disappearance of the Bookkeeper, Thomas R. Cox.
    It was at first stated that the shortage amounted to $30,000 but later there were reports that the defalcation was not so great, an error of the adding machine being in part responsible.
    Cox’s home was formerly at Ray City, in Berrien County.

1916-may-27-atlc-thomas-cox

Atlanta Constitution
May 27, 1916

Coffee Sheriff Holds Thos. Cox in New York

Willacoochee, Ga., May 26. — (Special.) — A telegram was received from Sheriff David Ricketson, of this county, last night stating that Thomas R. Cox, who is charged with wrecking the Bank of Willacoochee, was held by him in New York city and requisition papers have been forwarded to the governor of Georgia for his signature. The state bank examiner is still in charge of the institution and the amount of shortage is not known, though it is estimated at several thousand dollars.

1916-june-23-tg-bank-of-willacoochee

Tifton Gazette
June 23,1916

BANK OF WILLACOOCHEE

From the Willacoochee Record.
      At a meeting of the stockholders of the Bank of Willacoochee Tuesday, the stockholders present representing 231 of the 250 shares of the bank, voted unanimously in favor of an assessment sufficient to bring the impaired capital stock up to its par value and resume business.
      This will make the institution as sound as it ever was. Besides a plan has been proposed by depositors are to be insured and new officers for the institution will be elected if the plan of reorganization is successful. It is understood that the present depositors will co-operate with the stockholders for the payment of their claims as it will assure the reorganization and at the same time protect themselves as depositors.

1916-jul-7-atlc-bank-of-willacoochee-reopens

Atlanta Constitution, July 7, 1916 reports that the Bank of Willacoochee has reopened for business

Despite all the reported allegations of embezzlement by Thomas R. Cox, the available newspapers never reported that the Bank Examiners had any findings against him or that he was ever charged with any crime. He later worked as a book keeper in Ray City, GA.

 

Gideon Gaskins and the Oak View Hotel

Gideon D. Gaskins

Gideon D. Gaskins was born September 15, 1859 and raised in the vicinity of Ray’s Mill, GA.  His father was William Gaskins and his mother was Elizabeth Clements.  The Berrien County tax digests of 1884-1886 show the twenty-something young Gideon Gaskins in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the Ray’s Mill district, although he was not a land owner.

On October 17, 1886, Gideon D. Gaskins married Lourene “Lula” Clements in Berrien County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Gideon D. Gaskins and Lula R. Clements, October 17, 1886, Berrien County, GA

Marriage Certificate of Gideon D. Gaskins and Lula R. Clements, October 17, 1886, Berrien County, GA

Lula was born September 5, 1866, a daughter of John C. Clements  and Mary Patten.

Some time before 1887,  Gideon Gaskins moved his family to Willacoochee, GA where he worked as a merchant.  The 1887 property tax digest show “Giddie” Gaskins owned property in the town of Willacoochee valued at $135, and $25 worth of household furnishings. His stock of merchandise was valued at $300. The 1890 property tax digests show Gaskins’ town property in Willacoochee valued at $200, as well as $50 in household furnishings and $20 in livestock.

An 1898 society item from offered a tongue-in-cheek critique of the Willacoochee merchant’s physique.  Gaskin’s fellow businessmen and neighbors were: Albert Padgett, merchant; William L. Moore, merchant; Joe Vickers, merchant; Henry Paulk, merchant.  Gid Gaskins was apparently leaner and cleaner shaven than his colleagues.

1898 personal mention of Gid Gaskins, merchant of Willacoochee, GA

1898 personal mention of Gid Gaskins, merchant of Willacoochee, GA

Tifton Gazette
June 17, 1898

Clever Joe Vickers is waxing fat, selling good goods and eating fish these days.  The same would be true of our friends Padgett and Moore, but Gid Gaskins is not quite keeping up with the boys in the matter of flesh.  Like Henry Paulk, however, he is better prepared to stand hot weather.

In the census of 1900, Gideon Gaskins gave his occupation as merchant and indicated he was working as a wage employee. By 1902, Willacoochee was a growing concern and Gideon was ready to run his own shop.  He built a brick store in Willacoochee on the south side of the tracks of the Brunswick and Western Railroad. The Brunswick & Western Railroad ran 171 miles from Brunswick, GA to Albany, GA passing through Waynesville, Waycross, Waresboro, Pearson, Sniff, Kirkland, Pinebloom, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Enigma,  Brookfield, Vanceville, Tifton and other towns.  In the 1870s and 80s the Brunswick & Western had been the stomping grounds of the notorious outlaw Ben Furlong; in the 1900s Jack Alsea “Joe” Furlong,  son of Ben Furlong, was  residing at Willacoochee, GA in the household of his foster parents Benjamin B. Gray and Ellen Gray .

 

1902-mar-21-gideon-gaskins-in willacoochee-ga

Tifton Gazette
March 21, 1902

A Growing Town

    Tifton’s sister city Willacoochee is showing more evidence of thrift and interprise than any town along the Brunswick and Western.
    The Bank of Willacoochee has just finished two handsome brick store rooms on either side of the bank building, and these are occupied by D. E. Gaskins and by Carter & Ford.
   Mr. G. D. Gaskins is erecting a handsome brick store, 25×90 feet, as is also Mr. J. J. Vickers, the former on the south and the latter on the north side of the railroad, where his store was burned last Christmas.
   Both these buildings will soon be completed and occupied. Messrs. M. Corbitt and J. F. Shearer have also put a handsome line of groceries in the post office building.
    Several more improvements are contemplated.

Gideon D. Gaskins and Lula Clements had only one child, Mattie Mae Gaskins, born October 10, 1890. A 1904 news clipping from the Tifton Gazette suggests that Mattie Gaskins may have attended the Sparks Institute as a teen ager.

1904-apr-29-gideon-gaskins-of-willacoochee-ga

The 1910 census records show that Gideon’s nephew, Thomas R. Cox, had come to live with the Gaskins in Willacoochee by that time.  It was a banner year for Willacoochee in 1910.  The opening of the line of the Georgia & Florida on October 1, 1908 had brought a second railroad to the town and by 1910 the town was experiencing a boom in construction.  The Peoples Bank building went up, along with half a dozen still-existing brick and wood commercial buildings.  and the Willacoochee Electric Plant. And in 1910,  the Oak View Hotel was built in Willacoochee; Gideon Gaskins would be the proprietor.

The former Oak View Hotel, Willacoochee, GA

The former Oak View Hotel, Willacoochee, GA, with its distinctive jerkinhead (clipped gable) roof line. The jerkinhead design roof was stronger, but more expensive than a conventional hip gable roof.

The former Oak View hotel still stands on the corner of McCranie Street and Gaskins Street in Willacoochee, GA.  The hotel was built in a prime location,  one block south of the tracks of the Brunswick & Western Railroad and two blocks east of the depot of the recently opened Georgia & Florida Railroad.   After 1908, the route of the G&F was from Jacksonville, GA to Madison, FL  and provided convenient transportation between Willacoochee and Ray City by way of Nashville, GA, a run of about 34 miles. The Gaskins were one of many south Georgia families that shared a Ray City – Willacoochee connection.

The costs of constructing the Oak View Hotel may have strained Gideon D. Gaskins’ finances.  In 1910 he received a judgment of bankruptcy, but later determined that he would be able to make good on all his debts.

1910-apr-29-tfg-gaskins-bankrupt

Tifton Gazette
April 29, 1910

Does Not Appear Bankrupt

     Brunswick, Ga., April 23. – The case of G. D. Gaskins of Willacoochee, recently adjudged to be a bankrupt by the local refferee in bankruptcy, will come up for a hearing in this city on May 2.
    The schedule of liabilities and assets of the bankrupt were recently filed in the court for this district, and they show that he has assets of about $7,450, while his liabilities are only about $2,982.11.
    Some of the indebtedness has been paid off since the filing of the petition, and it is expected that when he comes to the hearing he will offer to pay dollar for dollar.

Despite earlier struggles, business was good in Willacoochee. By 1916 Gideon’s nephew, Thomas R. Cox, had secured a position as bookkeeper for the Bank of Willacoochee. When Cox disappeared in May, 1916 there were allegations of malfeasance.

Gideon D. Gaskins died at his home in Willacoochee, GA on October 23, 1916.

Death of Gideon D. Gaskins reported in the Tifton Gazette

Death of Gideon D. Gaskins reported in the Tifton Gazette

Obituary
The Tifton Gazette

Oct 27, 1916

 G. D. Gaskins, Willacoochee.
Willacoochee, Ga., October 24.-(Special.)- G .D. Gaskins, proprietor of the Oak View hotel and a well-known citizen of this county, died at his home here last night about 6 o’clock. He is survived by a wife, one daughter, Miss Mattie Mae Gaskins, of Willacoochee; four brothers, Bart, Tom and John Gaskins of Ray City, and Bryan Gaskins, of Sparks, and three sisters, Mrs. Ida Sirmans, and Mrs. Catherine Roberts of Nashville, and Mrs. Mary Cox of Ray City. The funeral was held at 3 o’clock this afternoon, followed by the interment here.

The grave of Gideon D. Gaskins lies in the Willacoochee City Cemetery.

Grave of Gideon D. Gaskins, Willacoochee City Cemetery, Willacoochee, GA. Image source: Barbara L. Kirkland

Grave of Gideon D. Gaskins, Willacoochee City Cemetery, Willacoochee, GA. Image source: Barbara L. Kirkland

The information from the grave marker is somewhat problematic. First, the given name on the grave does not follow the expected spelling –  “Gidian” instead of “Gideon.” Second, the date of death on the grave -March 21, 1916 – does not match with obituaries published in local and state newspapers which clearly establish the date of death as October 23, 1916.  It appears that the marker on the grave of Gideon D. Gaskins was placed well after the time of his death, perhaps after the time of his wife’s death, and that the date of his passing or even the spelling of his name was not well known to those tending his grave.

After the death of Gideon D. Gaskins his widow, Lula Clements Gaskins, operated the Oak View Hotel for a few years, then returned to Ray City, GA with her daughter, Mattie Mae Gaskins.   They lived in a house on Main Street, Ray City, until Lula’s death in 1947.

Grave of Lula Clements Gaskins, Willacoochee City Cemetery, Willacoochee, GA. Image source: Barbara L. Kirkland

Grave of Lula Clements Gaskins, Willacoochee City Cemetery, Willacoochee, GA. Image source: Barbara L. Kirkland

Ray City Home of Myrtle Hawk and W. R. McClure

Myrtle Hawk and W. R. McClure

Ray City Home of Myrtle Hawk and W. R. McClure.

Ray City Home of Myrtle Hawk and W. R. McClure.

By 1945, William R. McClure, his wife Myrtle Hawk McClure, and daughters Reba and Sarah were living at Ray City, GA.  W. R. McClure was employed as the principal at the Ray City School and Myrtle McClure, wife of W. R. McClure was a math teacher.

Myrtle Hawk and William Russel McClure

Myrtle Hawk and William Russel McClure

In the photo above, the McClures pose in front of their car, apparently dressed for a social occasion.  When teaching, Mrs. McClure normally wore a business suit with a high neck blouse.

As school let out for the summer of 1947 W. R. McClure resigned his position as principal of the Ray City School to go into business for himself.  The business, a bookkeeping service called “Mail-Me-Monday.  Some time after 1950 the MClures moved to Valdosta where W. R. McClure continued his business.   Reba McClure married J.I. Clements who went on to become a baseball coach at Georgia Southern University.  Sarah  became a bookkeeper in Valdosta.

Related Posts:

Ray City Theater shows Destination Moon

Ray City Theater 1950

The Ray City theater first opened in one of the  brick buildings on the north side of Main Street, near the corner of Paralleled Street. Later, it moved around the corner to a brick building on Paralleled Street facing the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

December 7, 1950, Ray City Theater was showing Destination Moon.   Some rights reserved by markbult

December 7, 1950, Ray City Theater was showing Destination Moon.

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by markbult

The Nashville Herald,
January 19, 1950, front page,Des

New Ray City Theater Opens Friday Night

      Ray City is all set for the opening of its new $20,000 modern theatre Friday (tomorrow) evening at 7 o’clock.
      Showing appreciation for the new enterprise Ray City merchants banded together for a full page advertisement in the middle section of this paper.  In addition, the theatre carries a liberal announcement of the opening together with the program for the next week.
      The new theatre is owned by L.O. West, who also is owner of Luke’s Theatre in Hilliard, Fla.  Mr. West is an experienced theatre man and will give a well rounded program of entertainment for the people of Ray City and vicinity.
      Modern in every respect, the theatre has spring cushion seats and back, rest rooms for both white and colored, drinking founts and a balcony for colored people.
      It is the first modern theatre for Ray City, and is understood to be one of the most modern in this section of the state.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

 

The Nashville Herald, December 7, 1950
Ray City Theatre Shows “Destination Moon” Sun., Mon.

       After having been closed several weeks, the Ray City Theatre is now reopened with pictures slated for Friday and Saturday and Sunday and Monday.
       A special picture, described as one of the most unusual in motion picture history, will be shown Sunday and Monday as advertised elsewhere in this issue of the paper.
       It is George Pal’s Technicolor space ship epic, “Destination Moon.”  Featured in the cast are John Archer, Tom Powers, Dick Weston and Erin O’Brien Moore.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

 

Walter G. Altman

Walter G Altman (1895 -1943)

Walter G. Altman was born 15 May 1895 in Cordele, GA. The 1900 census shows that at age  five he was living with his parents, James & Louisa Altman, and family in a rented home in the vicinity of Bowens Mill, GA.

1900 Census enumeration of Walter G. Altman and family, Bowens Mill, GA. https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu229unit#page/n241/mode/1up

1900 Census enumeration of Walter G. Altman and family, Bowens Mill, GA. https://archive.org/stream/12thcensusofpopu229unit#page/n241/mode/1up

 

Prior to 1917, Walter Altman had been living with his parents, James & Leslie Altman, and four of his siblings in Nashville, GA. All together, he had eight brothers and sisters. Walter attended school through the 8th Grade.

The Altmans worked a rented farm in Nashville. Walter and his brother, Wilbur Altman, worked with their father in general farming.

Some time between 1910 and 1917 the Altmans moved to Ray City, GA.  Walter registered for the draft there on June 5, 1917.  At the age of 22 he was still single, still living with his parents. He was medium height, medium build, brown eyes, and dark hair. He was working as a clerk for Nix & Miller Co sawmill operation, one of the historic businesses of Ray City.

In 1918 Walter Greene Altman married Leslie Alma Langford.  She was a daughter of William E. Langford and Mary Virginia Knight, and sister of Luther Etheldred Langford. Like Walter she had an  8th grade education.

Shortly after marrying, Walter went into the ice business.  Later he owned a cafe where Leslie worked as a waitress. By 1920,  Walter G. Altman owned a mortgaged home on Jones Street in Ray City, GA (now 506 Jones Street).

 

When census taker  Annie Patterson enumerated the household of Walter and Leslie Altman  for the 1920 census, she found the young couple with their newborn son, Walter Jr.  Walter’s parents were living in a home just a few houses down the street, along with Walter’s siblings Wilbur and Eva.  The neighbors were the Wright family, and the grocer Abe Levin and his family.  Other neighbors included merchants of Ray City:  men like Gordon V. Hardie, butcher; and Claud Clements, grocer.

At 24 years of age, Walter was working as a self-employed ice dealer, supplying the homes and businesses of Ray City with ice.   His brother Wilbur was also in the ice business. Ray City built a municipal electric plant in 1922, but dependable home electric service and electric refrigerators would not be available in the town until the 1930s.    In the 1920s, small towns  had ice delivery men, such as Wilbur and Walter, or Ferris Moore, who regularly supplied ice to chill ice boxes in local homes and businesses.

In the census of 1930, Walter Altman was again enumerated at Ray City. That year the enumeration included a count of citizens who owned radio sets.   In all of Ray City, there were only eight radio sets within the city limits, the owners being Walter Altman, James A. Grissett, John D. Luke, Henry Swindle, Marvin Purvis, John Simpkins, Joseph Johnson and Fannie Parks.  The average cost of a radio in 1929 was around $139 dollars. In terms of comparable “affordability” for an average person in today’s dollars (2010 index) this would be like making a $7,600 purchase (relative worth based on nominal GDP per capita index – see MeasuringWorth.com).

In 1928, Walter G. Altman ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the City Council:

Ray City News, Jan 3, 1929
City Officers Take Seat on January 14

The following city officers were elected in the election held in the early part of December, L. S. Giddens, mayor, J. D. Luke, J. A. Purvis, Y. F. Carter, W. H. E. Terry, councilmen.
J. M. Studstill opposed Giddens for mayor.  W. G. Altman, J. S. Clements and W. W. Woods were on the opposite ticket for councilmen.
The new officers will  be sworn in Monday night –text illegible– L. F.  Giddens over Edmond Griner.

The Altmans moved to Jacksonville, FL some time before 1935.    In that year, they had a home at 1035 East Church Street.  By 1940 they were back in Ray City renting a home for $5 a month. Census records indicate Walter G. Altman was disabled, with no income.  His neighbors included Elzie Kelly, an ex convict who served time on a chain gang, and Joe Burgman, who was farming the place next door.

1940 census enumeration of Walter G. Altman

1940 census enumeration of Walter G. Altman

Walter G. Altman died April 1, 1943.  His grave is at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA along with others of the Altman Family connection.

Graves of Walter G. Altman and Leslie A. Altman, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Graves of Walter G. Altman and Leslie A. Altman, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

 

John Sherlock ~ Irish Horse Trader

Irish Horse Traders
The Irish Horse Traders were a well known, if irregular, part of the historical businesses of Ray City and other Georgia communities.

horse-traders

 

According to Georgia: a guide to its towns and countryside, a product of the Georgia Writers’ Project (1940):

“The history of the Irish Horse Traders in this country dates back more than a century, when the first family landed in America and opened a livery stable in Washington, D.C. Other families came from the clans of Rileys, McNamaras, Carrolls, Sherlocks, Garmans, Costellos, Dartyrs, and O’Haras. When trade slackened, the clans organized themselves as travelling horse traders, going about in covered wagons with their animals on leads.

These Irish Horse Traders have preserved their entity. Marriage is confined to the limits of the eight original families, and only rarely has this tradition been violated. The families in America now total approximately 10,000 members, some of whom are very wealthy. The traders travel in high-powered motor cars, carrying tents and household goods in trailers and their animals in trucks.

In Atlanta the clans bought large tracts and settled for a short time, but they soon started out again, retaining their land titles in the Atlanta territory. Several are now in business at the Atlanta stockyards.

Because of the various families are separated and seldom communicate with one another, many members attend an annual reunion in Atlanta on April 28 have marriage ceremonies performed, and bury their dead. The bodies are shipped to the city and kept in vaults until the date of the reunion. Funeral services are held at the church of the immaculate conception. The horse traders began the custom of burying their dead in Atlanta, where Roman Catholic priests were available, in 1881 when John McNamara died while in Atlanta and was buried at Oakland cemetery. When no more interments could be made at Oakland Cemetery they purchased lots in Westview.

Burial sections five, seven, and ten are owned by the Irish Horse Traders, descendants of eight Irish families of horse traders. The most unusual memorial, that of John Sherlock, bears photographs of himself and his wife made on porcelain plaques and inserted in the stone.”

John Sherlock  was with a band of  Irish Horse Traders that camped at Ray City, GA in the fall of 1919.   There at Ray City,  on November 12, 1919,   John Sherlock died.  According to Garrett’s Necrosis records, John Sherlock’s parents were born in Ireland. He was the husband of Minnie Sherlock, and his home address was the Irish Horse Traders’ camp at the corner of Bellwood Avenue and Ashby Street, Atlanta, GA.

John Sherlock in Garrett's Necrosis Records.  Image courtesy of Judy K. Brantley/Wilson

John Sherlock in Garrett’s Necrosis Records. Image courtesy of Judy K. Brantley/Wilson

John Sherlock’s obituary was published in the Atlanta Constitution, and as was the custom of the Irish Horse Traders, his body was shipped to Atlanta to be held for the Irish Horse Traders’ annual funeral celebration .

1919-john-sherlock

 

JOHN SHERLOCK DIES
Was Member of Band of Irish Horse Traders.
Nov 15, 1919

John Sherlock, 55 years of age, died Thursday at Ray City, Ga., He was a member of a well-known band of Irish horse traders and the tents of the band were pitched at Ray City when he died.
Mr. Sherlock was born in Ireland, but when a small boy he came to America. He is survived by his widow, two sons and a daughter.
The body was sent to the undertaking parlors of Greenberg & Bond, where it will remain until May 28, which is the annual burial day for all members of the band dying within the year. 

 

Grave of John Sherlock and Minnie Sherlock, Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Fulton County, GA.

Grave of John Sherlock and Minnie Sherlock, Westview Cemetery, Atlanta, Fulton County, GA.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=109074323

 

 

John Sherlock, 1871-1919, Westview Cemetery, Atlanta. GA

John Sherlock, 1871-1919, Westview Cemetery, Atlanta. GA

Related Posts:

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.

Related Posts:

Clements Lumber Company and the Company Town

sawmill bladeTHE SAWMILL CENSUS OF 1920

In the early days of Ray City, GA,  the economic engine of the community was sustained by farming and agriculture.  Large stands of original growth yellow pine supported the development of turpentine and lumber industries in the area.

Related Posts:

The Growth of Timber

 “…in Southern Georgia there are millions of acres of magnificent yellow-pine forests suitable for general building purposes, shipbuilding, etc. Within the last few years, Turpentine Plantations have been opened in these forests, for the purpose of manufacturing naval stores. Large quantities of timber and lumber are being annually shipped from Brunswick and Darien, to Northern, European, and South American ports. In the south-eastern portion of the State, the Live Oak—a valuable wood for shipbuilding—abounds.”   -1876 Handbook of the State of Georgia

Lumber and naval stores came to be among the most important  historic businesses of Ray City. The opening of the Georgia & Florida Railway  in 1908 spurred the growth of a sawmill that quickly became the major employer of the town.

The sawmill was the first large mechanized industrial operation in the Ray City area.

Atlanta Georgian and News,
Aug. 23, 1911 — page 13

Want Ad.

FIRST-CLASS circular saw filer wants a position; can give any reference concerning smooth lumber. No booze fighter.
C.A. Reed, Rays Mill, Ga.             26

In the traditional agricultural occupations issues like child labor or safety were personal matters. But as  employment grew in the emerging industrial workplace the risks and concerns of the community also grew.

“A study of the sources of industrial hazards undertaken in the 1930s by the U.S. Children’s Bureau found “the first three industries in frequency of disabling injuries were logging, coal mining, and sawmilling.” Logging, coal mining, and fertilizer manufacturing were the only industries that exceeded sawmilling in the severity of injuries and the number of fatalities.” The Journal of Southern History , Vol. 56, No. 4 (Nov., 1990), pp. 695-724

In 1923, the Nashville Herald reported an industrial accident at the Clements sawmill.  In early February of that year a young boy, son of Math Phillips, had his eye put out at the sawmill, leaving some to wonder if it was time for stricter enforcement of compulsory school attendance.    Sawmills were dangerous workplaces and newspaper reports of more horrific accidents were not entirely uncommon. With the stockpiling of combustible materials, there was a constant ever present danger of fire – a threat that was magnified in steam-powered sawmills where boilers were typically fired with scrap material.

Clements Lumber Company

Over the years this sawmill was operated under three different owners.  The big sawmill at Ray City first operated under the name Luckie Lumber Company, owned by William F. Luckie. It was a huge operation located about one mile north of Ray City on the rail line of Georgia & Florida Railway .  About 1911, W. F. Luckie sold out to Levi J. Clements and his sons.  The Clements Family had experience in the sawmill trade, and the Clements boys were college-educated businessmen.

 Lucius Jordan Clements, with Helen Elizabeth

Lucius Jordan Clements, with Helen Elizabeth “Betty” Clements and Daisy Pearle Clements. Image courtesy of Ron Yates http://www.yatesville.net

The Clements Brothers ran the company, Lucius J. Clements served as General Manager of the Clements Lumber Company, Irwin Clements was a manager at the mill, and Joe Clements was treasurer.

The superintendent of the mill was Melvin W. Rivenbark. Clarence Jones Gray was stenographer and bookkeeper for the firm. James Edmond Hall and John William Sims were Shipping Clerks and Chester Artemis Hall was an Assistant Shipping Clerk. George B. Norton was foreman of the planing mill. William Andrew Hendrix was an engineer and Samuel Arthur Ganas was employed at the mill as a stationary engineer. Morris C. Sumner was the assistant lumber inspector and Timothy Allen Washington was a lumber grader. Willis Gordon Hill was a stave miller. William Haines Joiner was a locomotive engineer and J. D. Melvin was a fireman. Jacob Ed Akridge was woods superintendent. Tom Lott and Elmore Medley were teamsters and Bee Mannin was a log chopper. Robert Christopher Powell was a skidder operator and Ples Phillips worked on the tram road. Will Thomas was a sawyer. R.D. Ward was a machinist. Bashey Wells was a contractor. Freddie Andrew Wheless was a carpenter. Many men and sometimes boys were employed as “sawmill laborers”, others worked as sawyers, teamsters, firemen, foremen, wheelwrights, commissary clerks, or marketmen. Many of the women worked out of their homes, in the occupation of “laundress.” By 1920, the sawmill had grown to a large industrial operation. A ‘sawmill town’ had grown up to house the sawmill workers and their families. The enumerator for 1920 US Census annotated the census forms to indicate the sawmill residents, showing that there were 78 households with 313 residents living in rented homes at the sawmill.  More workers lived in the surrounding area and in Ray City.

While residents of the ‘sawmill town’ had access to all of the goods and services in Ray City just a mile south on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida, the sawmill company also operated a commissary where workers could shop.   In the 1920’s the Clements sawmill provided a cold storage facility for curing meats as a part of the company operations. The cold storage was also available to the people of Ray City and the surrounding area.

NEWS ITEMS FROM RAY CITY

Nashville Herald, February 16, 1923

The few cold days we had last week were fine for people to hang up their meat. The Clements Lumber Company cold storage cured about 76,000 pounds, all of which was removed last week.

Before the widespread availability of electricity and electric refrigerators, cold storage of meat  was an important service to the community.  Poisoning could result from consumption of meat which was improperly cured or  stored.

House at Clements Sawmill

House at Clements Sawmill
Photographed in 2008, this log house was moved to the old Clements sawmill area around 1975-78 by John David Luke. The original structure was built with notched logs, the wing extending to the right, rear was constructed with sawn boards.

By 1923, the Clements were operating ten miles of tram road track to bring timber to the sawmill. The operation also included a lathe mill, and a planer. The mill had a inventory of sawn lumber on the ground with an estimated value of about $30,000.  In 2013 dollar’s that would have been more than half a million dollars worth of lumber.

In 1923 the Jackson Brothers, owners of the Jackson Lumber Company purchased the entire mill operation from Clements Lumber Company for $75,000 in cash in what was described as “one of the biggest business deals pulled of in this section in some time.”

1923-clements-lumber

If the Spring of 1923 brought the town’s biggest economic boom, the fall of ’23 brought its biggest bust.  For on  November 6, 1923 fire struck the big sawmill  at Ray City, GA  devastating the operation  and the local economy.

<strong>Clements Sawmill Site in 2008, Ray City, GA.</strong><br /> This view of the site of the Clements Sawmill, taken from the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad, shows the location of the remaining foundations. In the distance a residential structure that was later moved to the sawmill site. The

Clements Sawmill Site in 2008, Ray City, GA.
This view of the site of the Clements Sawmill, taken from the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad, shows the location of the remaining foundations. In the distance a residential structure that was later moved to the sawmill site. The “company town” which grew up around the sawmill once boasted a population of more than 300 people and 78 households.

~

Clements Sawmill Foundations, 2008, Ray City, GA. Eighty-five years later, all that remains of the Clements Sawmill are a few concrete foundations in a cow pasture located about one mile north of Ray City, GA, on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railway. Protruding from these foundations are heavy steel anchoring bolts, perhaps used to secure cutting or planing equipment, or to support boilers used to generate steam power for the mill.

Clements Sawmill Foundations, 2008, Ray City, GA.
Eighty-five years later, all that remains of the Clements Sawmill are a few concrete foundations in a cow pasture located about one mile north of Ray City, GA, on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida Railway. Protruding from these foundations are heavy steel anchoring bolts, perhaps used to secure cutting or planing equipment, or to support boilers used to generate steam power for the mill.

THE SAWMILL AT RAY CITY, GA

1920 Census

The enumerator for 1920 US Census annotated six pages of the census sheets indicate the sawmill residents, showing that there were 78 households with 313 residents living in rented homes at the sawmill.

Name

Relation

Est.Birth

Birthplace

Race

 Occupation

1

Walter Ferrey

head of household

abt 1885

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Lucia Ferrey

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Clifford Ferrey

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

2

Will Goodman

Head of household

abt 1887

District of Columbia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ola Green Goodman

Wife

abt 1879

Georgia

Black

laundress

Charlie Smith

Grandson

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Henry Matchett

Head of household

abt 1876

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rebecca Matchett

Wife

abt 1884

Georgia

Black

Lenard Matchett

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Elmo Medley

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Josephine Medley

Wife

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Edmond Wilson

Head of household

abt 1857

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wilson

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

White

Harry Wilson

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Burney Wilson

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer-crossties

Goldie Wilson

Son

abt 1904

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Pearlie Wilson

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Rollie Wilson

Son

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Rossie Wilson

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Edna May Wilson

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Talley Wilson

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

John Browning

Head of household

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Willie Browning

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

White

Moselle Browning

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Odell Browning

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Avanell Browning

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Eulis P  Wallace

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Louella Wallace

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Eunice Wallace

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

White

Willis G Hill

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Leila Hill

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Otis Hill

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Lon S Westbrook

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Blonnie Westbrook

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

J Lester Westbrook

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Eanos H Westbrook

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Randall M Westbrook

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Myrtle J Westbrook

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Timothy A Washington

Head of household

abt 1886

Florida

White

Sawmill grader

Viola E Washington

Wife

abt 1887

Florida

White

Eulalie Washington

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

Eunice A Washington

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

M Grace Washington

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

William A Hendricks

Head of household

abt 1879

Georgia

White

Sawmill engineer

Loula Hendricks

Wife

abt 1882

Georgia

White

Willie F Hendricks

Son

abt 1902

Florida

White

Minnie M Hendricks

Daughter

abt 1904

Florida

White

Jennie Vaughn

Head of household

abt 1878

South Carolina

White

Horace Vaughn

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Henry Vaughn

Son

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Edna P Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1909

Georgia

White

Maudell Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Leon Vaughn

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Leila Vaughn

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Annie L Snowden

Head of household

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

laundress

Ed Miller

Head of household

abt 1859

Georgia

Black

Farmer -oa

Jennie Miller

Wife

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

laundress

Charity Adams

Daughter

abt 1879

Georgia

Black

laundress

Lilla Adams

Granddaughter

abt 1907

Georgia

Black

Marvin Adams

Grandson

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Deothia Graham

Granddaughter

abt 1906

Georgia

Black

Howard Graham

Grandson

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Farm laborer

Frank Teacher

Head of household

abt 1871

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Loue Ella Teacher

Wife

abt 1891

South Carolina

Black

Arnie Mathis

Brother-in-law

abt 1900

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Warren P Wright

Head of household

abt 1863

South Carolina

White

Sawmill laborer

C Elizabeth Wright

Wife

abt 1856

Georgia

White

Henry C Smith

Brother

abt 1865

Georgia

White

Jim L Dorman

Head of household

abt 1893

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Abbie W Dorman

Wife

abt 1899

Florida

White

J B Dorman

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Arlie M Dorman

Son

abt 1917

Florida

White

James P Dorman

Son

abt 1920

Georgia

White

Early A Walker

Head of household

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ruby M Walker

Wife

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Helma C Walker

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Emma C Walker

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Isaac B Sirmans

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Lucretia Sirmans

Wife

abt 1891

Georgia

White

Jimmie L Sirmans

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Ida L Curry

Sister-in-law

abt 1907

Georgia

White

George H Dorman

Head of household

abt 1887

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Dorman

Wife

abt 1897

Florida

White

J Cullin Dorman

Son

abt 1913

Florida

White

Ernest E Dorman

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

M Kathleen Dorman

Daughter

abt 1918

Florida

White

I S Vaughn

Head of household

abt 1887

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Annie R Vaughn

Wife

abt 1894

Georgia

White

Corley Luke

Boarder

abt 1886

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

I Lee Strickland

Head of household

abt 1898

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ada Strickland

Wife

abt 1902

Georgia

White

D Bash Wells

Head of household

abt 1878

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Martha Wells

Wife

abt 1888

Florida

White

Susie May Wells

Daughter

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Ophelia Wells

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

J B Wells

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Mack G Wells

Head of household

abt 1890

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wells

Wife

abt 1895

Florida

White

Carey W Wells

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Russell Wells

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Jervel L Wells

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Frank M Hill

BrotherInLaw

abt 1860

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

James J Wells

Head of household

abt 1876

Florida

White

Sawmill laborer

Annie Wells

Wife

abt 1887

South Carolina

White

James C Wells

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Woodrow O Wells

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Thomas Harnage

Head of household

abt 1896

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ostella Harnage

Wife

abt 1896

Georgia

White

James Harnage

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Elwood Harnage

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Ruby Harnage

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Robert James

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Loula James

Wife

abt 1878

South Carolina

Black

Lewis Gordon

Head of household

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mamie Gordon

Wife

Abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Will Jordan

Head of household

abt 1869

North Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Jordan

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

laundress

Bennie Jordan

Son

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rufus Jordan

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie Jordan

Son

abt 1905

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Alice Jordan

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

Black

Johnnie Jordan

Son

abt 1911

Georgia

Black

Amos Jordan

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

Black

Aaron Jordan

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Daisy Jordan

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

Black

Will Searcy

Boarder

abt 1876

United States of America

Black

Sawmill teamster

George Emmett

Head of household

abt 1862

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Anna Emmett

Wife

abt 1866

Georgia

Black

Steve Brown

Head of household

abt 1885

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Effie Brown

Wife

abt 1887

Georgia

Black

S C Brown

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie May Brown

Wife

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

laundress

Abraham Brown

Son

abt 1917

Georgia

Black

John H Green

Head of household

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mattie Green

Wife

abt 1894

Georgia

Black

Claudie Green

Son

abt 1911

Georgia

Black

Lonie Green

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

Black

Harry Bright

Head of household

abt 1880

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Josephine Bright

Wife

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Jim Grier

Head of household

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mamie Grier

Wife

abt 1904

Florida

Black

Rainey Medley

Head of household

abt 1885

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Florence Medley

Wife

abt 1881

Georgia

Mulatto

Pearlie Medley

Brother

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer -crossties

Lillie Medley

Sister-in-law

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Douglas Smith

Brother-in-law

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Frank Rines

Head of household

abt 1867

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Harriet Rines

Wife

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

George Merritt

Boarder

abt 1920

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

George Davis

Boarder

abt 1856

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Riley Bryant

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Hannah Bryant

Wife

abt 1898

Florida

Black

laundress

Eddie Young

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Young

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Henry Lofton

Head of household

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Sawmill sawyer

Bessie Lofton

Wife

abt 1883

North Carolina

Mulatto

Henry Lofton

Son

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

John Lofton

Son

abt 1905

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Cinthia Lofton

Daughter

abt 1910

Georgia

Black

Willie W Wood

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Viola Wood

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

G Willene Wood

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Mary N Wood

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Willie Bolar

Nephew

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Aurelia Goodman

Head of household

abt 1875

Georgia

Black

Innkeeper boarding house

Joseph Jackson

Boarder

abt 1889

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Handy Blue

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Julia Blue

Wife

abt 1872

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Lewis Banks

Head of household

abt 1864

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Easter Banks

Wife

abt 1857

Georgia

Black

Elmer Ratliff

Granddaughter

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Abraham L Thomas

Head of household

abt 1872

Tennessee

Black

Sawmill laborer

Angie Thomas

Wife

abt 1885

South Carolina

Black

Laundress

Ruther Thomas

Son

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Malachia Thomas

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

Black

Willie Thomas

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Lillie Thomas

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

Black

Abraham L Thomas

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Robert Thomas

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

George Stokes

Boarder

abt 1888

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Sam Brown

Boarder

abt 1876

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

John McQueen

Boarder

abt 1896

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ike Wilder

Head of household

abt 1870

South Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Emma Wilder

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

laundress

Jesse Freelour

Head of household

abt 1868

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ella Freelour

Wife

abt 1867

Georgia

Black

B Manning

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Wiley Brown

Roomer

abt 1901

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Arie Brown

Roomer

abt 1897

Florida

Black

laundress

Mint  Manning

Head of household

abt 1874

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Carrie Manning

Wife

abt 1870

Florida

Black

laundress

Robert Blanks

Head of household

abt 1894

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ella Blanks

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Carrie B Allen

Stepdaughter

abt 1910

Georgia

Black

N G Goings

Head of household

abt 1866

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mariah Goings

Wife

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Arthur Goings

Son

abt 1904

Florida

Black

Sawmill laborer

Willie Goings

Son

abt 1906

Florida

Black

Mamie Goings

Daughter

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Merritt Rouse

Head of household

abt 1863

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Estill Aaron

Head of household

abt 1876

Florida

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ida Aaron

Wife

abt 1886

Georgia

Mulatto

laundress

Inman Aaron

Son

abt 1909

Georgia

Black

Sess Aaron

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

Black

Henry Polite

Head of household

abt 1880

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Otella Polite

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

laundress

Stella Polite

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

Black

Bertha Carter

Head of household

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

laundress

Willie Melvin

Roomer

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Sylvester Williams

Roomer

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Bud Lamb

Head of household

abt 1886

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Tom Brown

Roomer

abt 1884

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Mary Brown

Roomer

abt 1902

United States of America

Black

Chester A. Hall

Head of household

Kansas Hall

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

White

James A Hall

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Van J Pool

Head of household

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Sawmill –shingle mill

Dora Pool

Wife

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Inn Keeprt – Boarding House

Olya M Pool

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Erwin W Pool

Son

abt 1907

Georgia

White

Newspaper Boy

Verdie K Pool

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

R Edna Pool

Daughter

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Charlie J Pool

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

H M Dorsey Pool

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

F K Hall

Head of household

abt 1856

Georgia

White

J Hollis Ritch

Son

abt 1887

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Noah H Sumler

Boarder

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Thomas A Sheffield

Head of household

abt 1883

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Ida B Sheffield

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Emma R Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Thomas J Sheffield

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Laura A Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1913

Florida

White

Harvey Sheffield

Son

abt 1915

Florida

White

Annie Bell Sheffield

Daughter

abt 1917

Georgia

White

Emory A Sheffield

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Gilfred Snowden

Head of household

abt 1890

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Maude Snowden

Wife

abt 1884

Georgia

Black

Augusta Snowden

Daughter

abt 1907

Georgia

Black

Sarah Snowden

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Georgia A Snowden

Daughter

abt 1912

Georgia

Black

Alice Snowden

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

Black

Viola Snowden

Daughter

abt 1916

Georgia

Black

Gilford Snowden

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

Black

Willie Morgan

Brother

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Isaac Snowden

Head of household

abt 1887

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Clyde Spencer

Head of household

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Leetta Spencer

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Cook-private family

John Hardy

Head of household

abt 1891

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Ruth Hardy

Wife

abt 1888

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Jeroel Hardy

Daughter

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Will Jones

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Rosa Jones

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Handy Simpson

Head of household

abt 1898

United States of America

Black

Sawmill laborer

Fannie Simpson

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Henry Wright

Roomer

abt 1903

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Charlie Melvin

Head of household

abt 1870

North Carolina

Black

Sawmill laborer

Lissie Melvin

Wife

abt 1874

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Ben Melvin

Son

abt 1898

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Joe Melvin

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Annie Melvin

Daughter-in-law

abt 1900

Georgia

Black

Laundress

Lonzo Williams

Roomer

abt 1870

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Bennie Bolar

Head of household

abt 1892

Virginia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Emma Bolar

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Cook –private family

John H Reed

Nephew

abt 1908

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

J Quinton Clements

Head of household

abt 1894

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Eva M Clements

Wife

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Jerald C Clements

Son

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Randall R Clements

Son

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Connie C Devane

Roomer

abt 1885

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Willie Johnson

Head of household

abt 1895

Georgia

Black

Sawmill laborer

Callie Johnson

Wife

abt 1897

Georgia

Black

Cook –private family

Robert L McDonald

Head of household

abt 1873

Georgia

White

Sawyer

Lilla M McDonald

Wife

abt 1876

Georgia

White

W Lillian McDonald

Daughter

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Eunice J McDonald

Daughter

abt 1907

Georgia

White

W Talmage McDonald

Son

abt 1908

Georgia

White

Lemuel C McDonald

Son

abt 1910

Georgia

White

Isaac B McDonald

Son

abt 1912

Georgia

White

Lois A McDonald

Daughter

abt 1914

Georgia

White

Fred H Lemke

  Grandson

abt 1916

Georgia

White

James P Devane

Boarder

abt 1865

Georgia

White

Commissary Salesman

Thomas N Crowe

Boarder

abt 1884

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Marion E Shaw

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill Marketman

Marion R Shaw

Wife

abt 1898

Georgia

White

Kermitt A Shaw

Son

abt 1918

Georgia

White

Perry Cook

Boarder

abt 1897

Georgia

White

Farm laborer

Charles E Hughes

Head of household

abt 1871

Georgia

White

Sawmill Section Foreman

Nettie Hughes

Wife

abt 1883

South Carolina

White

Elmer L Hughes

Son

abt 1902

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Fred L Hughes

Son

abt 1904

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Mattie B Hughes

Daughter

abt 1906

Georgia

White

Clyde R Hughes

Son

abt 1908

Florida

White

Glenn C Hughes

Son

abt 1913

Florida

White

Talmage R Hughes

Son

abt 1917

Florida

White

Dave H Cowart

Head of household

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Laura Cowart

Wife

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Donnald Cowart

Son

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Russell Browning

Boarder

abt 1901

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Luke Browning

Boarder

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Manning A Cersey

Head of household

abt 1889

Georgia

White

Sawmill Fireman

Lula Cersey

Wife

abt 1896

Georgia

White

Vera J Cersey

Daughter

abt 1911

Georgia

White

Clinton A Cersey

Son

abt 1913

Georgia

White

Jewel T Cersey

Son

abt 1916

Georgia

White

Robert  C.C. Powell

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Sawmill laborer

Lovdie Powell

Wife

abt 1893

Georgia

White

Corrie Powell

Daughter

abt 1915

Georgia

White

Madge Powell

Daughter

abt 1918

Georgia

White

R D Ward

Head of household

abt 1886

Georgia

White

Sawmill Machinist

Mamie Ward

Wife

abt 1895

Georgia

White

Arthur S Ganas

Head of household

abt 1892

Georgia

White

Sawmill Engineer

Ruby H Ganas

Wife

abt 1900

Georgia

White

Jaunita L Ganas

Daughter

abt 1919

Georgia

White

Chester A Hall

Head of household

abt 1899

Georgia

White

Sawmill Foreman

R. S. Thigpen ~ Turpentine Man of Ray’s Mill

Robert Silas Thigpen (1849-1898)

Robert S. Thigpen was a wealthy Naval Stores manufacturer and a resident of Berrien County, Ga.  In the 1890s he lived near Ray’s Mill where he owned and operated a turpentine still.

Born Robert Silas Thigpen, August 13, 1849 he was a son of Dennis Thigpen, of South Carolina. It appears that R.S. Thigpen came to Georgia with his family from South Carolina when he was a young man, probably in the 1860s.

In 1880, R. S. Thigpen and his younger brother John Thigpen were living in the 1125 Georgia Militia District in Worth County.  By that time, Robert was already a successful manufacturer of  Naval Stores, in the comparatively new turpentine industry. The 1880 census non-population schedules show R.S. Thigpen owned a Tar & Turpentine Naval Stores operation valued at $6000. This turpentine still was situated on the Ty Ty Creek near Isabella, GA. The enumeration sheet shows Thigpen generally employed about 60 hands, who worked 10 hour days, year-round. Skilled workers received $1.50 a day, and ordinary laborers 65 cents. Thigpen’s total annual payroll for the operation ran $5000 a year.

Georgia Property Tax Digests of  1890 show Robert S. Thigpen owned 843 acres in the Mud Creek district of Clinch county, Georgia Militia District 586, including all of lot 349 and parts of lots 486, 487, and 484. He was employing 70 workers in his operations there. He had $700 of merchandise on hand, $465 in household furnishings, $210 jewelry, $3200 in livestock, $225 in plantation and mechanical tools, $2810 in other property, all total valued at $13,800.

Early 1900s Turpentine Still in South Georgia. Image Source: Georgia Virtual Vault.

Early 1900s Turpentine Still in South Georgia. Image Source: Georgia Virtual Vault.

By 1894, Thigpen was manufacturing naval stores in Berrien County and had a turpentine still at Ray’s Mill.  One of the residents at the Thigpen property was Horace Cox.   As a young man Cox had worked in a carriage shop, and was the son of a Berrien County mechanic, Samuel D. Cox.

In the summer of 1894,  fire struck at Rays Mill.

Tifton Gazette
June 8, 1894 pg 1

The Thigpen mill near Rays Mill post office, Berrien county, was destroyed by fire one day last week.

On June 19, 1894 allegations of arson were made against Horace Cox by a committee of 110 citizens, who signed  and published a petition against Cox  in a paid advertisement in the Valdosta Times. Cox had been suspected of numerous arson cases in Berrien and Clinch counties.  The accusers asked R.S. Thigpen to turn Cox out, although Thigpen had not signed the petition.

That Fall, Thigpen suffered another setback when he was thrown from a horse.

Tifton Gazette
November 2, 1894  Pg 1

Mr. R. S. Thigpen was thrown from a horse near Ray’s mill last Sunday and two of his ribs were broken.  The girt to his saddle broke and the saddle turning threw him off.  He came to the city [Valdosta] in a carriage sent from here and is getting along well at present. – Valdosta Telescope.  Mr. Thigpen is a citizen of Berrien County and lives near Ray’s Mill.

Despite these hindrances, R.S. Thigpen continued with his operations at Ray’s Mill.

Tifton Gazette
Aug 16, 1895 Pg 3

Milltown Mention

L. D. Liles has sold his mercantile interests to R. S. Thigpen. The stock will be moved to the latter’s still near Ray’s Mill.

In February of 1896 incendiaries again struck in Berrien County, this time burning the landmark  Banks Mill at Milltown (now Lakeland).  This time, Horace Cox was formally charged with the arson. (see Horace Cox and the Burning of Bank’s Mill)  But he was acquitted  in the case, and afterwards he pursued a libel case against the Valdosta Times and the committee which had petitioned against him in 1894.  Cox’s lawsuit omitted any complaints against R.S. Thigpen.

Although the libel case Cox brought would continue to wind through the courts for another decade, Horace Cox’s connection with R.S. Thigpen was severed later that year by yet another fire.

Tifton Gazette
November 6, 1896 Pg 1

The residence of Mr. Horace Cox, near Thigpen’s still, was destroyed by fire, supposed to be of incendiary origin, last week.  But little of the furniture was saved. There was no insurance.

Thigpen continued his turpentine still at Rays Mill and worked for public improvements to support his operation.  The Tifton Gazette, Friday Sept 4, 1896 edition noted under “Green Bay Items:”

Mr. R.S. Thigpen is pushing to completion a bridge across Thigpen Bay, on the new public road running by way of Thigpen Still and H.H. Knight’s. He has contracted to build the bridge for $200. Those who oppose the opening of the new road said it would cost $500 to build that bridge.

Over his life, R. S. Thigpen amassed sizable holdings in naval stores, including his properties at Ray’s Mill, GA.  He  died on February 23,1898, and was buried at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA.  The regional newspapers reported on the settlement of his estate:

Macon Telegraph,
April 17, 1898  Pg 1

VALDOSTA.

Valdosta, Ga., April 16.

Judge W.H. Griffin, counsel for the administrator of the estate of the late R.S. Thigpen, has closed a trade for $35,000 of property in the estate. The turpentine plant at Rays mill was sold to W.F. Powell & Co. of North Carolina for $13,000 and naval stores stock to other parties for about $13,500. The still in this county near Naylor was sold for about $6,500. These large sales comprise only a minor part of the estate, but the good prices that were gotten for the property assures not only the solvency of the estate, but that the heirs will get a good deal from it.

 

Tifton Gazette
May 6, 1898 pg 4

 Mr. W. F. Powell, of North Carolina, with his father has purchased the Thigpen turpentine plant at Ray’s Mill from the estate of the late R. S. Thigpen.   The deal was made last week and engineered by Judge W. H. Griffin, the attorney for the estate.  Besides the valuable Ray’s Mill property, the still at the Bamberg place was also sold.  Henson, Bros. & Co., are the buyers, and it is understood that the price paid was about $6,500. {text illegible} 13,500 in naval stores stock {text illegible} ld, making about $35,000 {text illegible} n’s property to change hands in the past few days. -Valdosta.

 After the death of R.S. Thigpen, his wife and children made their home in Valdosta in a large house on Patterson Street.

Children of Sarah and Robert S. Thigpen:

  1. Annie Thigpen, b. December 1882
  2. Percy Thigpen, b. July 1886
  3. Fred Thigpen, b. August 1888
  4. Robert Silas Thigpen, Jr., b. May 1892
Gravemarker of Robert Silas Thigpen, Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA.

Gravemarker of Robert Silas Thigpen, Sunset Hill Cemetery, Valdosta, Lowndes County, GA.

Related Posts:

In 1934 Ray City was ‘Noted Section’ of Berrien County

Ray City began 1934 on an optimistic note.  A “booster” story from the Nashville Herald praised the farming, education, churches, municipal government, roads and businesses of Ray City.

The Nashville Herald, 
January 25, 1934, Pg 1

RAY CITY IS NOTED SECTION

Excellent Community of Berrien County and South Georgia – Fine Farming Section

In writing about different communities of Berrien County it is next to impossible to neglect the city of Ray City and the large farming territory surrounding it.  The Ray City section constitutes the southern portion of Berrien County, where extensive farm operations are carried on during every month of the year in all lines of endeavor.

The trading point is the city of Ray City, just ten miles south of Nashville, the county seat.  It has a population of around 500 people, all of whom are industrious and hospitable, with fine schools, churches and live wire merchants.  There is no better place in south Georgia to live than Ray City.

The farming population surrounding Ray City constitute an industrious and progressive people.  To a certain measure they are prosperous, because everything to be raised on a farm can be grown on their fertile lands, and each year their products find ready markets, returning to them cash in abundance.  The section is noted for its fine tobacco and cotton lands and is a hog and cattle raising territory of excellent possibilities.

The city of Ray City affords every convenience and comfort for the citizens of the community.  There is a fine school system, which is under the capable and efficient supervision of Prof. P. M. Shultz.  Prof. Ulmer Crosby is principal, and the other teachers are:  Mrs. P. M. Shultz, Miss Jessie Aycock, Mrs. A.B. Baskins, Miss Lillian Ford and Mrs. Eulalie Dickson.

The school has nine grades, with an enrollment of a few over the two hundred mark.  A number of fine students complete the school each year, advancing to higher institutions of learning.  The school system in Ray City is really a big asset, (illegible) a higher type of citizenry.

The school board is composed of the following gentlemen who handle their duties in a most admirable manner and of benefit to patrons and students combined.  H.A. Swindle, chairman, M.A. Studstill, sec.-treasl., C.H. Vickers, J.M. Studstill and W.M. Creech, members.

Ray City is not short either along the spiritual line, having four active churches as follows:  Baptist, Rev. Walter Branch, pastor; Methodist, Rev. F.A. Ratcliffe, pastor; Primitive Baptist, Elder C.H. Vickers, pastor; Christian, supply pastor.  The Baptist and Methodist churches conduct Sunday Schools, and young people’s organizations.

The affairs of the city of Ray City are in the hands of men who apparently have the united support of the people, as the entire body was recently re-elected to office.  J. H. Swindle is mayor, and the councilmen are:  G.V. Hardie, Y.F. Carter, H.P. Clements and W.M. Creech.

The standing committees for the year 1934 are:  Water and lights, G.V. Hardie and Y.F. Carter; Street, W.M. Creech and H.P. Clements; Sanitary, entire city council.

In questioning the mayor, Mr. J. H. Swindle, he stated that the city enjoyed a very good administration the past year, and that 1934 was begun with the city in much better financial condition than a year ago.

Ray City is soon to enjoy one of the best highway outlets of any small city in south Georgia.  It is located on Route No. 11, the short route into Florida from Atlanta.  This highway has been recently graded for paving and at some future date this work will be a reality.  Other good roads lead out in all directions as well.  It is located on the Georgia and Florida railroad, and is one of the railroad’s most important shipping points.  Mr. T.W. Thompson is the G. & F. Agent, having served in that capacity for a long number of years.

The postmistress is Mrs. J. F. Fountain, and the rural mail carriers are James Grissett and L.A. McDonald.

There are also several industries which add to the progressiveness of the town and community.

The Ray City Ice & Storage Company, of which Mr. D.T. Sharpe is manager, serves a wide territory.  At present this concern has on storage over 100,000 pounds of meat being cured for farmers.

The Y.F. Carter Naval Stores concern is the largest firm in the community, where approximately fifty men are given employment.  This firm operates over ten crops of boxes, the leases affording additional revenue for landowners.  It has been in operation for about eighteen years.

The J.H. Swindle Gins and Warehouse is another concern of benefit to the entire section.  Plants are located at Ray City and Barrett, being among the most up to date in south Georgia.  Mr. Swindle buys cotton and cotton seed, corn, peanuts, hay and other country produce.  Besides gin and warehouse activities he operates a twelve horse farm.

The Peoples Banking Company, a private institution, is owned by Mr. J. H. Swindle, with Mr. E. J. Patten as cashier.  This bank was organized several years ago by Mr. Swindle when Ray City lost its regular bank, so as to carry on the business operations locally and without interruptions.

Mrs. R.N. Warr is owner of old Ray Pond, famous for its fishing for the past hundred years.  Mrs. Warr acquired the pond about two years ago, and since has created a good income out of the sale of minnows, pond plants, frogs, and tadpoles.  The pond covers an area of approximately 4,000 acres.

Among Ray City’s most enterprising merchants are:  Swindle & Clements, B. Ridgell Jones Drug Store, Purvis Grocery Store, Weeks Grocery Store, Hardie Filling Station, South Georgia Oil Company, Bradford Barber Shop, Putnell Barber Shop, Swain Garage, Woodward Blacksmith Shop, Griner Corn Mill and others.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Related posts:

James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

« Older entries