Leon Bradford, Ray City Barber

Leon Bradford (1905-1962)

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City.

Leon Bradford and W. B. Parrish, February, 1951, at the diner in Nashville, GA. Leon Bradford owned a barbershop in Ray City. Photograph by Jamie Connell. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Leon Bradford was born December 5,1905 and raised at Ray City, GA. He was a son of Mack Talley Bradford and Margaret R. “Maggie” Gaskins.  His parents owned a farm on the Nashville & Valdosta Road, in the Connell’s Mill District near Ray City.

Leon and his brothers all attended school when they were of age. When Leon was about 13 years old, his father fell off a ladder. Although Mack Bradford’s injuries from the fall seemed minor, in just a short time he was dead.

For a time, Leon’s mother continued to farm the family place near Ray City. Leon’s older brother, Albert Bradford, worked as a farm laborer.

It appears that after the 8th grade, Leon Bradford had to give up school.  By 1930, Leon’s brother, Albert was married and had a place of his own. Leon’s mother moved with his two younger brothers to a farm at Cat Creek, GA, about ten miles southwest of Ray City. Leon moved into town at Ray City and took up the trade of barbering.  In 1930, he was boarding with Pleamon and Minnie Sirmons in their Ray City home.

About 1934, Leon married and in 1935  Leon and Dora Bradford became the parents of Patricia Bradford. The Bradford home was on Main Street in Ray City. They were neighbors of Hun and Gladys Knight, and the Knight’s boarders Hazel Tabor and Dorothy Chisholm who were both school teachers. Other neighbors of the Bradfords included George and Cynthia Swindle, Raymond and Jeanette Philipps, Marvin and Arlie Purvis, and Garth and Jessie Mae Webb. Patricia Bradford attended the Ray City School.

Leon Bradford had his own barbershop, located on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad.  Just across the street was the Victory Soda Shop  and next door was the grocery store owned by Marvin and Arlie Purvis. A few doors down was another barber shop owned by Lyman Franklin Giddens.  On Saturdays, Wayne Putnal worked at Bradford’s barbershop cutting hair and giving shaves. Leon Bradford spent his career grooming the citizens of Ray City, GA.

It appears the Bradfords were Methodists. Patricia Bradford attended the Methodist retreats at Epworth on St. Simon’s Island, GA. Like his father before him, Leon Bradford was an active member of the Masons.

Leon Bradford died May 27, 1962 in Berrien County, GA. He was buried with others of the Bradford and Gaskins family connections at Fisher Gaskins Cemetery, located on Bradford Road six miles southwest of Ray City, GA.

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

Grave of Leon Bradford, Barber of Ray City, GA. Image source: Robert Strickland

 

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Lyman F. Giddens’ Barbershop

Lyman Franklin Giddens 1876-1963 in his barber shop in Ray City. He served in many capacities for the Ray City community including Justice of the Peace and Mayor. Image and caption courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Lyman Franklin Giddens 1876-1963 in his barber shop in Ray City. He served in many capacities for the Ray City community including Justice of the Peace and Mayor. Image and caption courtesy of berriencountyga.com

Lyman Giddens’ barbershop was one of the historic businesses of Ray City, GA.

The barbershop was in a small one-story wooden building located on the south side of Main Street, about where the present day Post Office is located.  Next door, on the west of Franklin’s barbershop was the first gasoline station ever built in Ray City, GA.  The gas station was in a brick building constructed around 1925 by Gordon V. Hardie. The gas station was set back further off the street than the other businesses, but a shelter extended out from the building to cover the gas pumps.  Next in line was the grocery store owned by Marvin and Arlie Purvis. Between the grocery store and the tracks of  Georgia & Florida railroad  was Leon Bradford’s barbershop. These buildings were located on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks.

In addition to operating the barbershop, Lyman F. Giddens was Justice of the Peace. He conducted his official business out of the barbershop. He kept a desk in the corner of the shop that was always piled high with papers.

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

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James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

Wayne Putnal ~ Farmer/Barber of Ray City

Wayne Putnal & family were long time residents of Ray City, GA.

Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

Wayne Putnal and Lawson Fountain at the Ray City, GA Post Office shortly after it opened.

According to U.S. Census records, Wayne Putnal was born and raised in Florida. He was born November 22, 1889 in Jasper, FL, a son of  Eliza and Hayden Putnal.

Some time after 1910 Wayne Putnal moved to Georgia, where in 1916 he married Ellen Gaskins in Berrien County, GA.  Wayne was a man of 26 years, of medium height and slender build, with blue eyes and dark hair. Ellen was the 16 year-old daughter of Mary E. Strickland and Levi J. Gaskins of Rays Mill, GA;  their youngest daughter, born August 4, 1899.  Ellen Gaskins and Wayne Putnal were married on March 18, 1916. by  J.W. Moore, Justice of the Peace.

Wayne Putnal and Ellen Gaskins, 1916 Marriage License, Berrien County, GA

Wayne Putnal and Ellen Gaskins, 1916 Marriage License, Berrien County, GA

Shortly after marriage, the couple moved to West Green, Coffee County, GA where Wayne Putnal went to work as a barber, self-employed.  Wayne’s father had passed in 1913, and his widowed mother came to live with the young couple.  They were living in West Green when Wayne Putnal registered for the WWI draft on June 5, 1917. He was not called to serve in that conflict.

Wayne Putnall, WWI Draft Registration

Wayne Putnall, WWI Draft Registration

By the Census of 1920, the couple had relocated to Willacoochee, GA where Wayne took a wage position in a local barbershop. Wayne’s mother, Eliza Putnal, died in 1929, and was buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.  In 1930, the Putnals, now with six young children,  were living in Georgia Militia District 1329 near Ray City, GA. In the census that year, Wayne gave his occupation as farming on his own account.

Children of Ellen Gaskins and Wayne Putnal:

  1. Leston Putnal
  2. Grace Putnal
  3. Clifford Earl Putnal
  4. Nelda Putnal
  5. Carry W Putnal
  6. Dorthy E Putnal
  7. Glen H Putnal

By the 1940s, the Putnals had a big farm out on Park Street extension on the south side of Ray City.  Wayne Putnal was known as a very industrious man.  During the week he worked his farm, and on Saturdays  he worked as a barber, cutting hair at a barbershop in Ray City. ( Other Ray City barbers have included Lyman F. Giddens, Leon Bradford, Marion Guy Parrish, Remer Martin, Hayne A. Bowden and his employee Matthew A. Hendley.  In 1976, the town’s present barber was Carson Boyd.)

In their later years, the Putnals moved from their farm place to a house in town. They spent the rest of their lives in Ray City.

Wayne Putnal died June 9, 1980 and Ellen died December 2, 1992. They are buried at Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Wayne and Ellen Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Wayne and Ellen Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.Eliza Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Eliza Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Eliza Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Eliza Putnal, gravemarker, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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