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 was Leon Bradford’s barbershop.  Then came the grocery store owned by Marvin and Arlie Purvis which was next to the tracks of  Georgia & Florida railroad.  Between Purvis’s Grocery Store and the tracks, was the big wooden water tower which provided water for the old steam engines that pulled the trains.  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.

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.

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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

James Henry Swindle ~ Businessman and Public Servant

James Henry  “Jim” Swindle was a businessman and politician of Ray City, GA.  He was born near Ray City Aug 6, 1886, a son of Margaret Melvina Futch and George Emory Swindle.  A previous post gave his bio from the Georgia Official and Statistical Register.  He was involved in many civic organizations including the Baptist church, Masons, and Lions Club, and served in public offices from Mayor of Ray City to Representative in the Georgia Assembly.

James H. Swindle

James H. Swindle

Jim Swindle was a brother of Leonard Columbus Swindle, John N. Swindle, George Perry Swindle, Roy C. Swindle, and Leonidas A. Swindle.

In the Census of 1900 James H. Swindle was enumerated with his parents and brothers in his father’s household in the Connell’s Mill District near Rays Mill, GA. The Swindle family farm was located on the Rays Mill & Cat Creek Road. Jim and his younger brothers all attended school, while his older brother, Leonard, helped his father with the farm labor.

After the 1909 death of  his father, G.E. Swindle, at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA , Jim became the head of the household and took over the family farm.

James Henry “Jim” Swindle became a prominent businessman of Berrien County. By 1908, he was involved in the organization of the Bank of  Rays Mill, which later became the Citizens Bank of Ray City.  It is said that the Swindle family owned much of the land where present day Ray City is located, and when the town was officially incorporated in 1909, he became one of the first residents.  In 1912 he married Sarah Ellen  “Stell” Daniel in Nashville, GA, and the couple made their home at Ray City.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

J. H. Swindle of Rays Mill was a dealer for the Georgia Fertilizer & Oil Company. 1912 Advertisement.

Together with James S. Swindle, James Henry Swindle owned the Ray City Hotel, which stood on the location later occupied by the Clements Fountain. The Swindles employed J.F. Hineley to operate the hotel. The hotel and all of its contents were destroyed, along with several other buildings, in the Ray City fire of Sunday, April 25, 1915.

James Henry Swindle was 30 years old when he registered for the draft in WWI on June 5, 1917.  He gave his occupation as  a self-employed farmer  and merchant working in Ray City, Ga. He was described as medium height, medium build, black hair, and blue eyes.  His draft card was signed by D.A. Sapp.

By 1920 James H. Swindle had located his wife and family in a house on Main Street in Ray City, Georgia. They owned the home free and clear.  Their neighbors were C . Oscar Terry and Leon L. Parrish.  J.H. Swindle was a merchant, operating a grain and feed store on his own account.

Among other elected positions, Jim Swindle served 12 years on the Berrien County Board of Education, including four years as Chairman.

1925 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Ch. Ray City
A. L. Akins.. . .Nashville
J. H. Swindle …Ray City
C.B.Harris–. -Enigma
George P. Griffin Nashville

1927 Berrien County Board of Education
D. J. Gaskins, Chm., Ray City
J. R. McLamb
J. H. Swindle, Ray City
A. L. Akins, Nashville
W. K. Sikes

In the census of 1930, Swindle listed his principle occupation as operator of a gin. He owned cotton gins in Ray City, and at Barretts in Lowndes County, GA.

“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.”

Another of his 1930s business concerns was the operation of a bank at Ray City.

“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.”

Later, J.I. Clements worked for a while as cashier of the Peoples Banking Company.  Jim Swindle’s brother, L. C. Swindle also operated a bank at Ray City, the Farmers Bank.

In 1932 J. H. Swindle again served on the Berrien County Board of Education and in 1934 he was Mayor of Ray City.

On Jan 14, 1939 the Speaker of the House of the Georgia Assembly announced the Legislative Committee Chairmen. James H. Swindle of Berrien was named as chair of the General Agriculture Committee No. 1.   Just a few days later on January 31, 1939 the Atlanta Constitution reported that James Henry Swindle, of Ray City, was declaring as a candidate for State Commissioner of Agriculture.

J.H. Swindle, ‘Just a Small Farmer,’ Says Markets Aren’t Working.
January 31, 1939

By the Associated Press.

  Representative J.H. Swindle, of Berrien, who describes himself as “just a small farmer,” announced yesterday he would seek election as state commissioner of agriculture in 1940.

  Swindle, a veteran of three terms in the legislature, is chairman of the house committee on agriculture No. 1.

  Columbus Roberts, present commissioner of agriculture, concludes his present term in 1940. He has been mentioned as a likely candidate to succeed Governor Rivers.

  Swindle said he would favor revision of the state’s present agricultural policy to give greater assistance to the farmers in disposing of their products.

  “The farmer can dump his stuff anywhere,” he said. “The present system (of farmers’ markets) is not working any special good to the farmers.”

  Swindle urged that the state provide price reporting service as well as a place where farmers may bring their produce for sale. He also suggested that the state assist the farmers “to put his produce in proper shape for disposal” by grading and collecting individual shipments into single lots.

  “I would even be willing to try the auction system,” often results in the price for a commodity being set at an unfairly low level because one or more of the earliest sellers were unaware of the correct price and disposed of their produce below the market level.

  Swindle, a 52-year-old native of Berrien county, has served two years as mayor of Ray city, eight years on the city council, and 12 years on the county board of education, including four years as chairman. He is engaged in farming, operates a cotton gin, and purchases cotton and farm products for resale. He is married, and has two daughters and a son.

In 1941, James H. Swindle was appointed to serve again on the Berrien County Board of Education to replace Henry A. Swindle who had resigned from the Board in December 1940.  In October, the Board members elected J.H. Swindle as Chairman of the Board.

A 1941 mention in the Nashville Herald said:

Mr. J.H. Swindle is a prominent citizen of this city [Ray City].  He owns most of the business buildings in Ray City.  He is our past representative, having served four years.  He owns extensive farms and the gin.  He is a cotton buyer, a cottonseed buyer, and a corn buyer.

James H. Swindle continued his involvement in civic affairs. In the 1940s he worked to bring better roads to Ray City, and in 1947 served on the building committee for the new Ray City School gym.

In 1953 he was elected vice-president of the South Georgia Cattlemen’s Association.

Children of Stell Daniel and James Henry Swindle:

  1. Margaret Virginia Swindle  (Oct 28, 1914)
  2. Doris E. Swindle  (1916-1941)
  3. Grace E Swindle
  4. James Aaron Swindle (1920-1993)
Grave marker of James Henry "Jim" Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave marker of James Henry “Jim” Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

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Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Although cars had been on the roads in Berrien County, GA shortly after the turn of the century, it was not until about 1925 that Gordon V. Hardie opened the first gasoline station in Ray City, the Hardie Filling Station.  Hardie’s  garage was situated on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.  Within a few years Moses L. Giddens opened a competing garage and filling station and other Ray City automotive entrepreneurs hit the road running.

In 1945, Mac McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA.  Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

Joshua Brooks “Mac” McSwain, born April 15, 1902,  was a son of Mary Frances Gray and William Angus McSwain. He was born and raised near Cedar Crossing, GA in Militia District 43, Toombs County, GA. In 1910, his father was a sawyer and also an employer, but by 1920 he was back at farming.

By 1940, Mac McSwain had relocated to Ray City, GA. He was married to Lelia Vaugh. The McSwains lived with Lelia’s widowed mother, in a house on Pauline Street. Mac was employed as an automobile mechanic.

In 1945, the Nashville Herald announced the new Ray City business venture:

The Nashville Herald
October 25, 1945,  front page

New Garage to Open at Ray City

During the approaching week-end a new garage will be opened in Ray City according to an announcement appearing elsewhere in this issue, under the name of Fletch and Mac’s Garage.  The owners and operators are D.L. Fletcher and J.B. (Mac) Swain, both well known garage men.

The managers stated that they had erected a new building to house the garage and had bought new equipment to carry on auto repair work, electric and acetylene welding.  They will also handle auto accessories and Woco Pep gas and Tiolene oils.

It is understood that this is a muchly needed service in the Ray City area and no doubt the concern will do a flourishing business and serve the area well.

transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

Fletch and Mac's ad from the 1952 Beaver, the Ray City School yearbook.

Fletch and Mac’s ad from the 1952 Beaver, the Ray City School yearbook.

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Luckie Stop at Ray City

Luckie Lumber Company

In the early 1900s there were  at least 86 lumber mills situated on the line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad running from Augusta, GA to Madison, FL, some 250 odd miles.   A big sawmill was situated on the railroad just  above Ray City, at a stop known as Luckie.  First operated under the name Luckie Lumber Company, it was owned by William F. Luckie.  About 1911, W.F. Luckie sold out to Levi J. Clements and his sons.  It appears that the Clements may have continued to operate under the name Luckie Lumber Company for several years, for the business was still listed under this name in the March 15, 1915 edition of the Lumber Trade Journal.  (see also Clements Lumber Company and the Company Town;  November 6, 1923 ~ Big Fire Loss at the Ray City Sawmill)

William Floyd Luckie, 1858-1937, operated the Luckie Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

William Floyd Luckie, 1858-1937, operated the Luckie Lumber Company at Ray City, GA

William Floyd Luckie

William Floyd Luckie, Jr.  was born on October 15, 1858 in  Greene County, Georgia. He was a son of William F. Luckie and Delaney Sayers, but was orphaned at an early age.  His father was killed in 1859.

“In 1859, a runaway slave of William Luckey’s was captured. While attempting to punish him, the slave grabbed a knife and stabbed Luckey to death.”  http://www.inheritage.org/almanack/c_greene_03.html

In 1861, his mother followed in death.

Afterward, William Floyd Luckie and his sisters, Falby and Mary were raised by their grandfather, James Martin Sayers, on his farm near Penfield, GA.  William Floyd Luckie was enumerated there in 1870 as William Sayers. At the time, he was assisting his grandfather with farm labor.

On March 20, 1887 William Floyd Luckie married Anita Inez Parks in Dodge County, GA. She was born in 1863 in Georgia.

Anita Inez Parks, first wife of William Floyd Luckie.

Anita Inez Parks, first wife of William Floyd Luckie.

By the census of 1900 the couple had seven children and made their home in Hortense, GA  in Wayne County, GA (now Brantley Co.) William was working as a merchant. Hortense is situated on the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which ran the fast mail train through the town, from New York to Jacksonville. But the town generated such little traffic that it wasn’t even a flag stop for the railroad.

Children of Anita “Nida” Inez Parks and William Floyd Luckie:

  1. Fulton Woodard Luckie (1880-)
  2. Annie Mae Luckie (1891-1971)
  3. Nebbie I or J Luckie (1892-1977)
  4. Willis Heard Luckie (1894- abt 1984)
  5. Fannie C Luckie (1895- )
  6. Rosa Kate Luckie (1897- )
  7. Candler C Luckie (1899)
  8. William M Luckie (1902-1931)
  9. John Parks Luckie (November 14, 1903 –  October 23, 1996)

It appears that the Luckies moved about 85 miles from Hortense to McRae, GA  sometime before 1903.  Anita Inez Parks died May 5, 1906 and was buried there at Oak Grove Cemetery. William was left a widower with eight minor children to raise.

About 1907 William F. Luckie married a second time.  In 1908 a son was born to this union, James Luckie (1908-1974). Elizabeth Susan and William Floyd Luckie were enumerated in McRae, GA with their children in 1910. William was working as a sawmill superintendent; Elizabeth was keeping house.  In McRae, the Luckies owned a home on Huckabee Street,  named in honor of William Allen Huckabee. Huckabee was first president of  South Georgia College, a  school which had been founded at McRae about 1885.

Shortly after the 1910 census William F. Luckie came to the newly incorporated town of Ray City, GA.  Mr. Luckie founded the Luckie Lumber Company, a business that within a decade would grow to be one of the largest employers in the area. The big sawmill was located on the tracks of the Georgia and Florida about a mile north of town.

Mr. and Mrs. W. F. Luckie were among the first members of the Ray City Methodist Church, along with Will Terry, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Turner, Mrs. Julia Dudley, Annie Lee Dudley, and Marie Dudley. The Church was organized by brother F.D. Ratcliff on October 29, 1910. The Rev. W.E. Hightower of Remerton, Georgia served as the first pastor. Originally the services were held in a tent on the north side of town near the homestead of Mr. and Mrs. Will Clements.

The business and social activities of the newcomers were newsworthy. The Valdosta Times, Saturday, November 26, 1910,  noted:

Mrs. B.W. Boyd and Mrs. W.F. Luckie, of Ray’s Mill came down yesterday and spent the day in this city on a shopping trip.

and in  January 19, 1911 The Valdosta Times reported from Rays Mill:

Mr. W. F. Luckie made a business trip to McRae last Saturday returning Monday.

In time, the Luckie children were on the social scene in Berrien county.   The Atlanta Constitution noted Willis Heard Luckie among the Ray City young people at the Nashville, GA carnival in 1914.

Atlanta Constitution, Feb 8, 1914, pg 8 M

Nashville (news items)

Rays Mill was well represented at the carnival last week. Misses 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 and C.B . Shaw were among the visitors.

Some time between 1914 and 1920, William F. Luckie had moved his family to Spence, GA in Grady County where he was operating a sawmill at the time of the 1920 census. But by 1921, the Luckies moved to Cairo, GA.

By the time of the 1930 census, William and Elizabeth Luckie had returned to Ray City.  They lived in town in a rented house; William Luckie engaged in truck farming.

William Floyd Luckie died on 16 Aug 1937 in Quitman, Brooks, Georgia. He was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, Georgia.

William Floid Luckie (1858-1937), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

William Floid Luckie (1858-1937), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

After his death,  Elizabeth S. Luckie went to live in the home of her daughter Nebbie and son-in-law William H. Terry, on South Broad Street in Quitman, GA. She died on May 1, 1953 and is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Elizabeth Susan Luckie, (1876-1953), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

Elizabeth Susan Luckie, (1876-1953), Oak Hill Cemetery, Quitman, GA.

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G. V. Hardie Was Visionary Merchant

For about 30 years in the early 1900s Gordon Vancie Hardie was a merchant of Ray City, GA.  Among his marketing strategies was an arrangement with A. K. Hawkes Company to bring a visiting optician to Ray City.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

G. V. Hardie ran advertisements in The Valdosta Times announcing this service for his patrons.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City Druggist, brings optomistrist to town.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City druggist, brings A. K. Hawkes optician to town.

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source: http://www.rubylane.com/item/634706-1003111/K-Hawkes-Co-Eyeglasses-Case

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source: http://www.rubylane.com/item/634706-1003111/K-Hawkes-Co-Eyeglasses-Case

About Gordon Vancie Hardie (1890-1937)…

Gordon Vancie Hardie was born in Pinetta, Florida on Tuesday, May 13, 1890, a son of Jessie F. and Lila D. Hardie. Gordon had a brother, Grover, who became a physician, and two sisters, Pearl and Maud.

Gordon spent his boyhood days in Florida; at the time of the census of 1900, his family was living in Withlacoochee, Madison County, Florida.

By 1910, Gordon’s father had moved the family to Georgia. Nineteen year-old Gordon was living in his parents household in Hahira, GA, where his father had acquired a farm.

While his father farmed, Gordon worked as a drygoods salesman. One of the merchants in town was Irvin “Plimp” Hodges. Plimp had spent most of his life farming in Lower Fork, Lowndes County, GA, but some time prior to 1910 he brought his wife and daughter, Addie, to live in Hahira, GA. Perhaps Gordon Hardie met Addie at her father’s store. Somehow they became acquainted and soon enough they were married.

Gordon Vancie Hardie and Addie B. Hodges were wed on November 25, 1912 in Lowndes County, GA. Perry T. Knight, Minister of God and native of Ray’s Mill, GA, performed the ceremony.

From about 1911 to his death in 1937 Gordon Vancie Hardie made Ray City, GA his home. He was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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Thomas M Ray Founded Ray’s Mill in 1863

Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Ray’s Mill, came to the area in 1855 prior to the formation of Berrien County, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.

Gravemarker of Thomas Marcus Ray, founder of Rays Mill, GA.
Epitaph of Thomas Marcus Ray
The pains of death are past.
Labor and sorrow cease.
and Life’s long warfare closed at last.
His soul is found in peace.

Thomas Marcus Ray was born on September 20, 1822,  in the area of Georgia that would later be known as Griffin, Monroe County, GA.  His parents were Thomas and Mary Ray.  Little is known of his early life.

The 1850 census  shows at age 28 Thomas M. Ray was working as a mechanic in Twiggs County, GA.  He  married Mary Jane Albritton on March 3, 1852  in Houston County, GA. She was the daughter of Allen and Rebecca Albritton, and the sister of Matthew H. Albritton.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton, March 3, 1852, Houston County, GA.

The newlyweds moved to the area of Lowndes County that was later cut into present day Berrien County, GA.  A little more than a year later, Mary Jane gave birth to a son, John William Allen Ray, on May 10, 1853.

Sadly, just six days later Mary Jane died and Thomas, a 31 year old widower,  was left to raise the infant on his own. Thomas buried Mary Jane in the cemetery at Union Primitive Baptist Church, which was the only church in the area. Union Church, now known as Burnt Church, is located on the Alapaha River in present day Lakeland, Lanier County, Georgia.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

Gravemarker of Mary Jane Albritton Ray, Union Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA.

In 1853 this section of the state was only sparsely populated, and most of the settlers in the area gathered at least once a month at Union Church for services.  Thomas Ray was among those who attended.  It may be there that he met the 17 year old Mary Adelaide Knight.   She was the daughter of Levi J. Knight, a renowned Indian fighter and prominent planter in the area.  She was also the granddaughter of the Reverend William A. Knight, one of the founders of the Union Church and the first state senator elected to represent Lowndes County.  The following year, on August 22, 1854 Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight were married.

Thomas and Mary established their homestead on lot #516 in the 10th district of Lowndes County near Grand Bay, on land that Thomas purchased from his wife’s grandfather, William A. Knight, in 1855.  This land was soon to be cut into Berrien County in 1856 (and later into Lanier county).  Thomas’ father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, was instrumental in laying out the boundaries of the newly formed Berrien county.

On this land, the newlywed couple settled down to raise a family. In 1855, a daughter was born,  whom they named Mary Susan Ray. In 1858 a son was born to the couple, Thomas M. Ray, Jr.  and in the spring of 1860 Mary A. delivered another son, Charles F. Ray.

The Census of 1860 shows that Thomas M. Ray was clearly a wealthy man in his day.  On the census form his occupation  is listed as merchant.  At that time owned $2000 in real estate, and held $10,400 in personal estate. If he had a comparable net worth in 2007, he would certainly have been a multimillionaire.

The 1860 Census indicates that, in addition to the Ray children, two other youngsters were living with the Ray’s.  John T. Ray, Thomas Ray’s 15 year old nephew, lived with the family and attended school along with his cousins.  John T. Ray would be killed in a train wreck in 1888 (see Railroad Horror! 1888 Train wreck kills John T. Ray and 30-odd others.) A young girl  nine-year-old Efare Hayes (aka Ellifare Hayes), who was also living in the Ray household did not attend school.  Later census forms show that she was a domestic servant for the Rays. The census records show Ray’s neighbors were John Gaskins and Louie M. Young. The 1860 U.S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules show in that year Thomas M. Ray also was a slave owner, with one black female slave and one slave house enumerated.

Together, Thomas M. Ray and Mary Adelaide Knight had nine more children between 1855 and 1876, their last son being born in the year of Thomas’ death.

In the early 1860’s Thomas Ray partnered with his father-in law Levi J. Knight to build a grist mill and mill pond (now known as Ray’s Millpond) on Beaverdam Creek on land owned by L. J. Knight.  Mr. Knight would provide the land for the project, Mr. Ray would be mechanic and operator.    With the assistance of slave labor, the Ray family began the work to construct the earthen dam that would create an impoundment on Beaverdam Creek. In her later years, Mary Susan Ray, daughter of Thomas and Mary A. Ray, recalled that she helped build the dam when she was young child. ” Each day the family would load all equipment into the wagon, go over and work all day on the dam.”  In the age before power equipment the construction of the earthen dam that created the millpond was a massive undertaking. The dam is 1200 feet long with an average height of 12 feet, 12 feet wide at the top and 20 feet wide at the base.  It took approximately 10,800 tons of earth, dug and moved by human muscle to construct the dam.

It was while the dam was under construction that the initial hostilities of the Civil War broke out. On  April 12, 1861 at 4:30 a.m. Confederate  forces opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.  During the Civil War, Thomas Ray’s father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, and his future son-in-law Henry H. Knight both served in the 29th Georgia Volunteer Infantry.  Thomas himself, was a major in the 138th Battalion, 6th Military District, Lowndes, County, GA. There is no record that this unit saw active duty during the war.

Thomas M. Ray was apparently at his home near Grand Bay in the fall of 1861, for Mary delivered another daughter the following spring: Sarah Jane “Sallie” Ray was born May 23, 1862.  According to a history of the Wiregrass area published by the Coast Plain Area Planning & Development Commission, Thomas M. Ray began operation of the grist mill, known as “Knight and Ray’s Mill”  on November 7, 1863.

Ray's Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Ray’s Mill, Ray City, Berrien County, GA

Thomas Ray was still at home in the late summer to early fall of 1864, for in the spring of 1865 James David Ray was born on April 30, 1865, just days after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

After the war, in 1866 Thomas Ray bought land from his partner and father-in-law, Levi J. Knight, where the Rays constructed a new home and moved their family. This land was 225 acres of  lot #424 in the 10th district of Berrien County,  on the west side of Beaver Dam Creek right next to the grist mill.  Nearby were the homes of his mother- and father-in-law, Levi J. and Ann Knight, and his wife’s cousin Henry H. Knight.  To the west of the Ray farm was the property of William Gaskins.

Even after the Civil War ended slavery, cotton was the major agricultural concern in the south.  In 1869, Thomas Ray and William Roberts set up a mill for ginning and carding cotton on Beaverdam Creek downstream from Ray’s Mill.  From that point on the creek came to be known as both Beaverdam Creek and Card Creek.   The cotton mill was situated on land purchased from the estate of William Washington Knight, deceased brother-in-law of T. M. Ray.   (W.W. Knight died of disease during the Civil War; see The Poetry of Mary Elizabeth Carroll.)  The mill site included 30 acres on lot #452 and the right to impound water on lot #451, just east of #452. “This operation was apparently taking advantage of a small pond and dam already put in place by John Knight whose property it adjoined…” The dam site was on Beaverdam Creek about 20 yards just east of present day Pauline Street in Ray City, GA..

In early August of 1870 when the census was enumerated for the 1144th Georgia Militia District, the household of Thomas M. and Mary Ray  included  their children  William A.,  Mary  S., Thomas M. Jr., Charles F., Sarah J., James D., and one year old Elizabeth Texas Ray.  Also living with the family was Thomas Ray’s mother, Mary Ray, 78 years of age. Ellifare Hayes, the family maid was now a young woman of 19. Eight year old Ellin Jones  was an African-American domestic servant also living in the Ray household.  In 1870  Thomas M. Ray’s personal estate was valued at $5000 and his real estate at $2714.   His neighbors included  Robert A. Elliott and Annis Lastinger Elliott, and their children.  Robert A. Elliott was a mechanic and a hand at the wool mill. Another neighbor was Isaac J. Edmonsen.

General Levi J. Knight, long time friend, partner and father-in-law of Thomas Ray, died on  February 23, 1870 in the community where he lived (nka Ray City) in Berrien County, Georgia.  Afterwards, Thomas Ray bought out L. J. Knight’s interests  in the grist mill and the land, including water-flow rights, from the General’s estate.  Over time the mill became the focal point of a community which came to be known as Ray’s Mill, GA.

Willis Allen Ray was born in 1871, and Robert Jackson Ray in 1873.

The 1874 tax digest show that Thomas M. Ray was an employer; working for him was Andrew Wilkins, a Freedman and farmhand who lived near Rays Mill.

In 1874 when Mercer Association missionary Reverend J. D. Evans came to Ray’s Mill, Thomas M. Ray was deeply moved by the baptist’s message.  Thomas M. Ray must have attended the church meetings in the old log school house and the big revivals that were held in May and July, for he became instrumental in the formation of a Baptist Church at Ray’s Mill (see Men at Beaver Dam Baptist Church.)  On September 20, 1874 a small group of followers met with Reverend J. D. Evans  at  the  home of Thomas and Mary Ray to organize the church.  Thomas M. Ray. and David  J. McGee were elected to represent the new church to the Mercer Baptist Association and were sent as messengers to the Valdosta Church. The Reverend J. D. Evans wrote a petitionary letter which they carried to the association. In November 1874 Thomas M. Ray was appointed to a church building committee along with James M. Baskin and D. J. McGee. He served on the committed that selected and procured the site for the construction of the church building. He continued to serve on the building committee until his death.

In 1876, Joseph Henry Ray was born.

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary Jane Albritton (1836 – 1853)

  1.  John William Allen Ray (1853 – 1934)

Children of Thomas Marcus Ray and Mary A Knight (1836 – 1923)

  1. Mary Susan Ray (1855 – 1926)
  2. Thomas Marcus Ray, Jr (1858 – 1923)
  3. Charles Floyd Ray (1860 –
  4. Sarah Jane (Sally) Ray (1862 – 1938)
  5. James David Ray (1865 – 1937)
  6. Elizabeth Texas Ray (1869 – 1952)
  7. Willis Allen Ray (1871 – 1901)
  8. Robert Jackson Ray (1873 – 1954)
  9. Joseph Henry Ray (1876 – 1907)

Thomas M. Ray died June 14, 1876.  His death was announced in The Valdosta Times:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday, July 1, 1876
Thomas M. Ray

Maj. T.M. Ray, a prominent citizen of Berrien County, died last week, after a long spell of illness.

His lodge brothers in Butler Lodge No. 211 Free and Accepted Masons provided this tribute:

The Valdosta Times
Saturday Aug 26. 

     Tribute Of Respect , Butler Lodge No. 211 F.A.M.  Milltown, Ga., Aug. 12th, 1876. Whereas, it hath pleased the Grand Architect of the Universe, in His wise Providence, to remove from labor, in the lodge on earth, to refreshment (as we trust) in the Great Grand Lodge in Heaven, or brother Thomas M. Ray

Therefore be it

     Resolved, 1st. That, in his death Masonry has lost a worthy brother, the neighborhood an upright and honest citizen; his family a kind husband, and indulgent father and a good provider.

     Resolved, 2nd. That while we mourn his loss and miss his association, we bow with meek submission to the will of Him who doeth all things well.

     Resolved, 3rd. That we cherish his memory and recommend to the emulation of the Craft Iris virtues and the uprightness and integrity of his character.

     Resolved, 4th. That we extend to the family an relatives of our deceased brother our heartfelt sympathies, praying upon them the guidance and protection of our common Heavenly  Father.

     Resolved, 5th. That a blank page in our minute book be inscribed to his memory, and that a copy of this preamble and resolution be furnished the family of brother Ray, and a copy furnished the Berrien County News, for publication and the Valdosta Times requested to copy.

By order of Butler Lodge No. 211 F. &A.M.

Ogden H. Carroll, T.O. Norwood, Jesse Carroll,  Com.

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Two Fires Strike Ray City

On this day May 5, 1925  two fires struck in Ray City, GA.  The Lanier County News reported the story:

The Lanier County News
May 7, 1925, front page,

Two Fires Ray City

     Ray City suffered loss by two fires Tuesday night, one directly after the other.  First Mr. J.M. Tyler’s garage, back of his residence, burned down and his car with it.  About the time they were through working on this fire, Altman’s warehouse, 150 yards distant, by the railroad, was discovered on fire, and it burned down.
      The warehouse was quite a large building built by the Miller Hardware & Furniture Co. and used by that firm as a warehouse for a time but afterwards sold to Altman Bros. who have used it for a fertilizer warehouse the past two seasons.  They carried some insurance.

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker.

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W.H.E Terry’s Store at Rays Mill, GA

Ray City History
William H. Edward Terry

About 1910, William Henry Edward Terry came to Ray City, GA from Florida and built the first brick building in the new town. Mr. B. W. Boyd, of Valdosta, was given the contract to construct the new building on  the south side of Jones Street near the corner of Paralleled Street, in Ray City.

 The Valdosta Times
September 10, 1910

Mr B. W. Boyd of this city has been given the contract to put a second story on Mr. Gregory’s building at Adel, the upper story to contain offices.  He also has been given the contract to build a two-story brick building for Mr. W. H. E. Terry, at Rays Mill.

The construction proceeded quickly, and the January 19, 1911 edition of the Valdosta Times reported,  “Mr. W. H. E. Terry has moved into his new brick building.”

But even earlier, Terry was advertising his new store in The Valdosta Times.

Advertisement for W. H. E. Terry, Rays Mill, GA appeared in the Valdosta Times, Dec. 24, 1910.

Advertisement for W. H. E. Terry, Rays Mill, GA appeared in the Valdosta Times, Dec. 24, 1910.

In a  January 14, 1911 two line ad, W.H.E. Terry featured “Coffins and Carpets.”

Jan 14, 1911 ad for W. H. E. Terry's store appeared in The Valdosta Times

Jan 14, 1911 ad for W. H. E. Terry’s store appeared in The Valdosta Times

An early photo of the town features a department store offering “coffins and caskets.

Early photo of Rays Mill (Ray City), GA. Note storefront signage for caskets and coffins. Was this the building constructed by W. H. E. Terry?

Early photo of Rays Mill (Ray City), GA. Note storefront signage for caskets and coffins. Was this the building constructed by W. H. E. Terry?

The old building was torn down in the early 1950’s.

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