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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Dr. B.F. Julian Burned Out at Ray’s Mill

For a brief period in the late 1890s, Dr. Bailey Fraser Julian, Jr. made his practice in Rays Mill, GA (nka Ray City).  A fire on the night of Monday,  October 3, 1898 burned out his drug store and office. Dr. Julian’s property was partially insured by Briggs Carson, a Tifton businessman who was an investor in the Waymer-Moore Telephone Company, among other interests.

Atlanta Constitution
Oct 7, 1898

Fire Near Tifton
Tifton, Ga., October 6. -(Special.)- The drug store and office belonging to Dr. B. F. Julian, at Ray’s Mill, was destroyed by fire Monday night last.  Dr. Julian was away from home at the time and the origin of the fire is unknown.  The loss was total and included a lot of clothing in the office.  The loss is estimated at between $1,200 and $1,500, on which Briggs Carson of Tifton, carried insurance amounting to $800 in the Commercial Union.

Dr. Julian was born in June 1864  and raised in Vickery’s Creek, Forsyth County, Georgia. He was a son of Bailey Fraser Julian and Stella Johnson Clement.  It appears that sometime after 1880 B.F. Julian, Jr. came to south Georgia.  In 1890, Dr. Julian married Theresa Elma “Tessie” Swift.  She was born September 19, 1869 in Wisconsin, and as a child had moved with her family to Clinch County, GA.

As a young man, Dr. Julian moved to Archer, Florida where he established his practice as a doctor and surgeon. From 1895 to 1897 Dr. B. F. Julian was a member of that Florida Medical Association. In 1895 he became a charter member of the South Florida Railway Surgeon’s Association which, according to the International Journal of Surgery, held its organizational meeting at Gainesville, FL in April of that year.

Dr. Julian was also present when the Plant System Railway Surgical Association met at Sanford, FL later that year. There, he read a paper titled “Fractures of the Vault of the Skull.”

In 1897, Dr. Julian tendered his resignation with the Florida Medical Association as he had moved his residence from Archer, FL to Tifton, GA. It appears that shortly thereafter he opened his business at Rays Mill. After the 1898 fire that destroyed his Rays Mill store and office, Dr. Julian moved to the Dupont District of Clinch County, where he and Tessie were enumerated in 1900.

About 1903, Dr. Julian moved back to Archer, FL.  He apparently suffered from an extended illness and died on the 27th of March 1907.  His obituary ran in the Gainesville Sun.

The Daily Sun: Gainesville, Florida
March 30, 1907

Death of Dr. Julian.

Information reached this city Friday of the death of Dr. B. F. Julian, about forty-nine years of age, who passed away at his home in Archer Tuesday night. The remains were taken to Stockton, Ga., where the interment was held.
    Deceased was well know in this section, where he resided for many years.  He was formerly a physician at Archer and enjoyed a good practice, but later went to Georgia where he was engaged in his profession for a number of years.  He returned to Archer, however, about four years ago, where he has since resided.
    Dr. Julian is survived by a devoted wife, to whom the sympathy of The Sun and friends is extended.

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Dr. Sloan Had Ray City Roots

Dr. William David Sloan (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan (1879 – 1935)  (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

William David Sloan was born March 12, 1879 in the 1144 Georgia Militia District, the “Rays Mill District.” He was one of 11 children  born to Martha Susan Gordon and James Murray Sloan.

William David Sloan’s parents  came from North Carolina. His father moved the family from North Carolina to Mississippi for a brief stay, then to Echols Co., Ga.; thence to Berrien County, GA in 1871 where he engaged in farming. His father, James M. Sloan, a son of David and Diadema Sloan, was born January 18, 1833 in Duplin County, N.C., and  died November 20, 1894.

In 1897,  W. D. Sloan went with Lane Young to Thomasville, GA to study at  Stanley’s Business College.  The census of 1900 shows 21-year-old William  back in the Rays Mill District living in the household of his widowed mother .  She owned the family farm, free and clear of mortgage, which she worked on her own account, with the assistance of farm laborer Charlie Weaver. William’s mother, Mrs. Martha Susannah Gordon Sloan, died Oct. 25, 1908.

Julia Elizabeth Knight Ridgell, widow of David Rigell, married Dr. William Sloan.

Julia Elizabeth Knight Ridgell  (photo circa 1910), widow of David Rigell, married Dr. William Sloan.

In 1907 William received a scholarship from the Governor.  The August 28, 1907  issue of the Atlanta Constitution noted that W. D. Sloan, of Milltown, had been appointed by the governor to receive a scholarship at the Medical College of Georgia.

He moved to Augusta, GA where he studied medicine at the  University of Georgia’s Medical Department, now known as Georgia Regents University. He graduated from UGA with a medical degree in 1910 and went into general practice, working on his own account.  At the time he was boarding in the household of Charles Conner, of Watkins Street, Augusta, GA.

William David Sloan returned to Berrien County, GA and sometime after 1911 married Julia Elizabeth Knight Rigell.  She was the widow of David Rigell, an early merchant of Rays Mill, GA. She was born August 9, 1880, a daughter of Walter Knight and Jimmie Gullette.

Dr. William David Sloan and Julia Knight Rigell Sloan. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan and Julia Knight Rigell Sloan. (Image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

William David Sloan enlisted in the Army Medical Service in 1917, and served during World War I.

Dr. William David Sloan, Army Medical Service, WWI. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. William David Sloan, Army Medical Service, WWI. (image courtesy of http://berriencountyga.com/)

Dr. Sloan later made his home in Stockton, GA but often visited his many family connections in the Ray City area. In September 1925, he happened to be on hand when little Merle Elizabeth Langford suffered a fatal rattlesnake bite. (Ray City Child Dies From Bite Of Rattle Snake, 1925)

Dr. William David Sloan and his automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.

Dr. William David Sloan and his automobile. Dr. Sloan was born and raised in the Rays Mill, GA vicinity.

In his later years Dr. Sloan suffered from kidney and heart disease.

The Journal of the American Medical Association, March 2, 1935 issue reported the obituary of William David Sloan.

William David Sloan, Stockton, Ga. ; University of Georgia
Medical Department, Augusta, 1910; served during the World
War ; aged 55 ; died, January 10, in a hospital at Atlanta, of
chronic nephritis and heart disease.

He was buried at Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, in Echols County, Georgia.

Grave of William David Stone (1879-1935, Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Echols County, GA.

Grave of William David Sloan, M.D. (1879-1935), Wayfare Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery, Echols County, GA.

Julia Rigell Sloan died September 10, 1955.  She was buried at the City Cemetery in Lakeland, GA  next to the grave of her infant daughter, born February 3, 1907.


Grave of Julia Rigell Sloan, City Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Julia Rigell Sloan, City Cemetery, Lakeland, Lanier County, GA


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Isbin T. Giddens Dies of Brain Fever at Guyton Hospital, Georgia

Isbin T. Giddens and Matthew O. Giddens were the two youngest sons of Isbin Giddens, a pioneer settler of the Ray City, GA area.  The Giddens brothers served together in the Civil War.  They joined Levi J. Knight’s company of Berrien Minute Men, Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry at Milltown (nka Lakeland), GA.  Neither men would survive the war.

Gravemarker of Matthew O. Giddens, Camp Chase, Ohio

Mathew O. Giddens, a subject of previous posts (Matthew O. Giddens ~ Confederate POW), fought with the Berrien Minute Men for more than three years before he was taken prisoner on December 16, 1864 near Nashville, TN. He was imprisoned at Camp Chase, Ohio where he died three months later. Federal records of deaths of Confederate prisoners of war show that M. O. Giddens, 29th GA Infantry, died of pneumonia on February 7, 1865 at Camp Chase. He was buried in  one of 2,260 confederate graves at Camp Chase Cemetery.

Isbin T. Giddens became a corporal in Company G, 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment, the Berrien Minute Men.  He was enlisted at Savannah, GA on August 1, 1861. From August 1, 1861 to Feb, 1862 confederate military records show he was present with his unit.

Whether in the P.O.W. camps or in regimental camps, Confederate soldiers like Mathew and Isbin Giddens were under constant risk for disease.  In early December of 1861, soldiers of the Berrien Minute Men wrote home that there was an outbreak of measles in the camp of the 29th Regiment. In late December,  the measles outbreak was even worse. By July of 1862 letters home from the Berrien Minute Men told of diseases spreading throughout the confederate camps: chills and fever, mumps, diarrhea and typhoid fever.

That summer, Berrien Minute Men Company G (formerly Co. C) was at Battery Lawton on the Savannah River. Isbin T. Giddens had made the rank 2nd Sergeant,  but by July he was gravely ill.  He was sent to the Confederate general hospital at Guyton, GA about thirty miles northwest of Savannah. (Note: This community was also known as Whitesville, Georgia. See Guyton History.)

Soldiers of Berrien County  helped in the construction of the hospital at Guyton.  In a letter dated May 18, 1862, Sergeant Ezekiel Parrish wrote to his father James Parrish (1816-1867) that a construction recruiter had visited him in Savannah, GA:

“Father I think now that I shall go up to Whiteville at No three on the C R R to help build a government hospital.   There was a man here this morning that has the management of that work after hands and for the improvement of my health which is growing bad I think I shall go and work there a few weeks.  The water here is very bad and brackish and a continual use of it is enough to make anybody sick.  [If] I  do not go up to No 3 I shall write to you soon…”

Ezekiel Parrish  made it to Guyton hospital at Whiteville. His Confederate service records show he was among the Berrien County men he was detached in May 1862 for carpentry work at the hospital. Another was Matthew A. Parrish,  of Company I, 50th GA Regiment.

But within three weeks time Ezekiel Parrish’s health took a turn for the worse.  He was himself admitted to the hospital and died of measles pneumonia, June 5, 1862 at Whitesville, GA.  Matthew A. Parrish would not long survive him; he died October 21, 1862 in Berrien County, GA.

The Savannah Republican, August 14, 1862, wrote,

Guyton Hospital, located at Whitesville, No. 3, Central Railroad, is now a very important point, being (together with Springfield, where a convalescent camp is located) the headquarters of the sick from every point.—Here preparations are being made on a large scale for the accommodation of patients from the other Hospitals and camps, and daily accessions are being made to the large number already there… Springfield, six miles from Whitesville, is a beautiful location, where several hundred convalescents, still unfit for duty, are rapidly improving. Thanks to the wise forethought of those who originated and executed this admirable plan in connection with Guyton Hospital. There is a hospital attached to this camp also; there is a want of proper nurses and nourishment there. We trust that want will soon be supplied by the people of the surrounding country”

The assignment to Guyton hospital perhaps gave the men  a better than average chance of surviving his illness.  In Surgical Memoirs of the War of the Rebellion, Volume 2, issued 1871, Guyton Hospital was described as one of the most effective of the general hospitals in Confederate Georgia.  Patients at Guyton were far more likely to survive gunshot wounds or disease than soldiers sent to other Georgia hospitals.

The excess of mortality in the general hospitals of Savannah and Macon, Georgia, over that of Guyton, was clearly referable in great measure to the hygienic conditions and relative locations of the various hospitals…In the crowded hospitals, the simplest diseases assumed malignant characters; the typhoid poison altered the course of mumps and measles, and pneumonia, and was the cause of thousands of deaths; and the foul exhalations of the sick poisoned the wounds of healthy men, and induced erysipelas, pyaemia, and gangrene.  Who can estimate the suffering inflicted, as in the celebrated case of the Augusta hospitals, by the development and spread of hospital gangrene in overcrowded hospitals situated in the heart of towns and cities?
     As a rule in military practice, the wounded should never be placed in wards with patients suffering from any one of the contagious or infectious diseases, as small-pox, measles, scarlet fever, typhus fever, typhoid fever, erysipelas, pyaemia, or hospital gangrene; and these various diseases should not be indiscriminately mingled together. The voice of the profession is unanimous as to the exclusion and isolation of small-pox, but we know from extended experience that sufficient care was not exercised in the isolation of other diseases.

Despite the hospital’s better record with disease, Isbin T. Giddens died of “Brain Fever”  on July 17, 1862 at Guyton Hospital. The term Brain fever, no longer in use, described a medical condition where a part of the brain becomes inflamed and causes symptoms that present as fever.   In modern terminology, conditions that may have been described as brain fever include Encephalitis, an acute inflammation of the brain, commonly caused by a viral infection, or Meningitis, the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.  Giddens died with no money in his possession.  His effects, “sundries”, where left in the charge of W.S. Lawton, Surgeon and later,Surgeon-in-Chief. His place of burial was not documented.

Isbin T. Giddens, register of deaths by disease, Confederate Archives

Isbin T. Giddens, register of deaths by disease, Confederate Archives


The historical marker at Guyton bears the inscription:

In May 1862 the Confederate Government established a General Hospital in Guyton, Georgia. This hospital was located on a nine acre tract of land between Central Railroad, a determining factor in locating hospitals, and current Georgia Highway 119, Lynn Bonds Avenue and Pine Street. The end of May saw five people on the medical staff at this hospital. Five months later the number had reached 46 people including surgeons, assistant surgeons, contract physicians, hospital stewards, ward masters, matrons, ward matrons, assistant matrons, nurses, cooks, and laundry workers.

The Savannah Republican, September 6,, 1862, wrote,

Covering for the Sick Soldiers.
We are in receipt of a letter from the Surgeon of the Guyton Hospital, to which all our
convalescing soldiers are sent, stating the fact that the patients are wholly unprovided with
blankets, comforts and other covering to protect them against the approaching cool weather. The
government cannot purchase blankets on any terms, and it rests with private citizens to prevent
the suffering that must surely ensue without such aid. Will not our citizens take a review of their
bed clothing, and send us what they can possibly spare? Anything that will keep out the cold
will answer, and we hope to receive a prompt response to the appeal, both from city and country.
The inmates of the hospital have relatives and friends all over the State, who should do what they
can for their comfort. All packages sent to this office will be promptly forwarded.

♦ ♦ ♦

By May 1863, this hospital had a medical staff of 67 people. Confederate documents reveal that this hospital had 270 beds and 46 fireplaces. When the hospital was filled to capacity the Guyton Methodist Church was used to take in patients who could not be placed in the hospital. Surgeon William H. Whitehead was the Surgeon-in-Charge from May 1862 until February 1863, when Surgeon William S. Lawton took charge and served in this capacity until the hospital was abandoned in December 1864, when the 17th Army Corps of General Sherman`s Federal Army approached. From May 1862 to December 1864, this hospital provided medical care, food, clothing, and lodging for thousands of sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. – Historical Marker

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Obituary of Dr. L.S. Rentz

The obituary of  Lawson S. Rentz (1890-1970) provides a follow-up on this former Ray City, GA resident (see Lawson Rentz Serves Country and Ray City, GA).

Lawson S. Rentz, a son of William P. Rentz and Emmaline Parrish, was born May 15, 1889 in Lowndes County, Georgia. He married Clyde Lee Daniels on June 11, 1913 in Berrien County, Georgia.

Rentz was a First Lieutenant, Medical Corp,  during World War I. He served in the Embarkation Service   at Hoboken, New Jersey and afterward returned home to enter medical practice as one of the  Medical Men of Ray’s Mill.

In the 1920’s, when the marketing of the “American tropics” reached a heyday, Dr. Rentz was swayed to make a trip to Florida.  The dream of paradise in south Florida was the brainchild of  George Edgar Merrick (1886–1942), a real estate developer who is best known as the planner and builder of the city of Coral Gables, Florida in the 1920s, one of the first planned communities in the United States .  George Merrick is also credited with the establishment of the University of Miami in Coral Gables in 1925 with a donation of 600 acres of land and a pledge of $5 million dollars.

One of the 1920’s advertisements read:

Will you take the priceless gift of -LIFE?  Bronzed, erect old men. Women delighting in new cream-and-rose complexions. Round and brown children. Handsome, full-figured youngsters. These are evidences of the extraordinary vitality and superb health that come from living under the tropical skies of Coral Gables. And when you see these people you will believe, as we do, that the only American tropics will add years to your life, and will add new pleasures and delights to each year.

Developers ran steamships and special trains  to bring prospective buyers to south Florida. “If you should take one of these trips, and buy property in Coral Gables, the cost of your transportation will be refunded upon your return.”

The doctor did take a train, and found south Florida quite to his liking; he spent the rest of his life there.  He died March 26, 1970 in Dade County, Florida.


Dr. L.S. RENTZ  – age 80 of Coconut Grove, Fla., died of lung cancer in March of 1970. He had lived Miami for 44 years. A former resident of Nashville and Ray City, Dr. Rentz was lured to Miami by a promotion scheme devised by developer George Merrick, who sent trains up and down the East coast, promising anyone along the way a free trip to Florida in exchange for looking over his properties there.  Dr. Rentz hopped on, and decided to stay.  Survivors, Dr. L.S. Rentz, a pharmacist, lives in Miami; Dr. D. Frank Rentz, an orthodontist, also of Miami; his wife, the former Clyde Lee Daniel; 1 Daughter – Mrs. Annie Laura Carlisle of Cairo, Ga., 2 sisters- Mrs. Effie Griffin of Tampa and Mrs. Arlie Futch of Adel.

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George Emory Swindle Sought Cure at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA

The 1909 death of  George Emory “Tube” Swindle at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA  was noted in the Atlanta Constitution.  Although he died far from home, George Emory Swindle lived most of his fifty-two years  near Rays Mill (now Ray City), Georgia.

Atlanta Constitution
August 19, 1909
 G. E. Swindle, Valdosta, Ga.

August 18. -(Special.)- G.E. Swindle, a prominent and wealthy farmer of this county [Lowndes], died yesterday morning at Buffalo Lithia Springs, Va. where he had gone for his health. Mr. Swindle had been a sufferer from Bright’s disease for several years. Recently his condition became much worse.  Two of his sons went to his bedside on Saturday, and were with him when the end came.  L.C. Swindle, a merchant of Valdosta, and J. N. Swindle, also of this city, are his sons.  He leaves four other sons and his wife, who live on the home place in Berrien County.  The deceased was 52 years old and had lived in Lowndes county many years. He owned much valuable property and was one of the wealthiest farmers in the county.

Solomon's Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

Solomon’s Temple, one of three hotels at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia.

George Emory Swindle was born April 5, 1859 in Liberty County, GA, a son of James Swindle and Nancy Jane Parker, and brother of Sheriff William Lawrence Swindle.

Swindle moved with his family to Berrien county GA some time in the 1860’s.   The Swindle farm was located about two miles southwest of Ray’s Mill, GA [now Ray City, GA] on Possum Creek road.

At age 18, on December 13, 1877, George E. Swindle married Margaret M. Futch. The couple made their home next to his father’s place on the Berrien-Lowndes county line, and for the next thirty years raised crops and children.

While George Swindle prospered as a successful planter, he suffered from Bright’s Disease.  A succinct description and historical context of this condition is provided by the writers, researchers, and editors at the www.wisegeek.com website.

      Bright’s Disease is an older classification for different forms of kidney disease. It was named after Dr. Richard Bright, who described the condition in the early 19th century. Lack of understanding of kidney function naturally meant that several different conditions could be considered Bright’s Disease. These include inflammation of the kidney, commonly called nephritis. Inflammation may be the result of too much protein being shed through the kidneys, called proteinuria, or hematuria, which causes blood in the urine. As well, Bright’s Disease might describe kidney failure due to high blood pressure or retention of fluids. Those symptoms most commonly associated with Bright’s Disease were intense pain on either or both sides of the lower back. Fever might be present and intense edema, or retention of fluids, might cause the extremities to appear extremely swollen. Breath could be labored and difficult, particularly if kidney failure caused fluid to accumulate in the lungs, or was caused by metastasized cancer.
Analysis of urine in diagnosing Bright’s Disease might show extremely cloudy, dark or bloody urine. Those affected might also find eating difficult, or might have periods of nausea or vomiting. All of the symptoms meant a very serious disease, which was usually not treatable, particularly in the 19th century.  Some types of kidney inflammation might be treated if they were not indicative of progressive kidney illness. Some people suffered attacks that could respond to early diuretics or laxatives. Physicians might also propose special diets, but this was still relatively uncommon.

A quack treatment for Bright’s Disease that became highly popularized in the 1800s was the use of “Lithia Water”.  In 1921, the American Medical Association published a volume on Nostrums and Quackery that included a brief history on the emergence of the  lithia water fallacy.

Years ago, Alexander Haig evolved the theory that most diseases are due to uric acid. The data on which he founded his theory were not corroborated by scientific men, and investigation showed that his methods were unreliable. In spite of the fact that Haig’s theories are utterly discredited, and have been for years, the uric acid fallacy still persists, although it is now largely confined to the public. Shrewd business men, especially those who are more intent on making money than they are concerned with the manner in which that money is made, owe much to Haig’s theory. As a business proposition, uric acid has been one of the best-paying fallacies on the market—and possibly still is.

Contemporary with, and to a certain extent a corollary of, the uric acid fallacy was another, vie, that lithium would eliminate uric acid. This.at once gave a good working principle for the proprietary men. Uric acid, we were told, causes disease; lithium, we were also told, would eliminate uric acid; therefore, lithium is the new elixir of life! Could anything be simpler?

But in the early 1900s lithia water was hawked as the best available treatment for Bright’s Disease. One of the most renowned treatment centers was the health resort located at Buffalo Lithia Springs of Virginia, where guests drank, ate and bathed with the mineral water.  “The Springs were known to Europeans as early as 1728 and operated as a commercial enterprise from about 1811 to the early 1940s. The Springs featured a hotel and health resort and opened a bottling plant around the turn of the century that sold water from Spring No. 2. … At its peak, Buffalo Springs water was sold in an estimated 20,000 drug stores throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. (Abbott et al 1997:19-58).”  An 1896 article in Public Opinion magazine described the health resort. “The hotel, of which Col. Thomas F. Goode is the proprietor, will remain open until October 1. The locality is one of nature’s grandest works…The hotel accommodations are excellent and the rates remarkably reasonable. …every facility exists for invalids to bathe in the mineral waters at any desired temperature. Medical men in all parts of the country praise the therapeutic value of the water of the Buffalo Lithia Springs.(Public opinion, Volume 21, pg 12)

An advertisment for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promises to cure Bright's Disease.

An advertisement for Buffalo Lithia Water and the hotel at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA promised to cure Bright’s Disease.

George Emory Swindle  died August 17, 1909 at Buffalo Lithia Springs, VA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave of George Emory Swindle, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Eventually, medical evidence would show, as in this case, that mineral water was not an effective treatment for kidney disease. Although the Food and Drug Administration would force mineral water companies to cease false therapeutic claims, Buffalo Springs Mineral Water continued to be sold until 1949 .

Wisegeek.com concludes:

Those with progressive kidney disease labeled as Bright’s Disease usually did not respond to treatments, which might also include bloodletting, and the treatments above. Those unresponsive to treatment were simply unlucky to be born in a time when medical knowledge was minimal. Current treatments for kidney failure of various types, like kidney transplant or dialysis, can significantly lengthen the lives of those who would once have been diagnosed with Bright’s Disease.

Bright’s Disease may be used in reference to Dr. Richard Bright, or one may find reference in literature and in older biographies, or medical texts. Today medical researchers and practitioners know that an all-inclusive label such as this obscures appropriate methods for cure, since not all kidney disease can be treated in the same manner. However, most honor Dr. Bright for at least localizing these diseases to the kidneys and pointing the way toward further research.

Read more on the 1921 AMA case against Buffalo Lithia Water

Children of George Emory Swindle and Margaret M. Futch:

  1. Leonard Columbus Swindle
  2. John N. Swindle
  3. James Henry Swindle
  4. George Perry Swindle
  5. Roy C. Swindle
  6. Leonadis A. Swindle

John A. Giddens, D.D.S.

Yet another college educated son of William Giddens, of Berrien County, was John A. Giddens.  Like his brothers, Henry, Isbin and Marcus,  John A. Giddens moved from Berrien County to live in Tampa, FL.  His biography appeared in Memoirs of Florida in 1902.

Rerick, Rowland H. (1902) Memoirs of Florida: Embracing a general history of the province, territory, and state; and special chapters devoted to finances and banking, the bench and bar, medical profession, railways and navigation, and industrial interests.The Southern Historical Association, Atlanta, GA. Vol II, Pgs 525-526.

John A. Giddens, D.D.S., a well known dentist of Tampa, is a native of Berrien county, Ga., born July 24, 1860.  He was the son of William Giddens, a Georgia planter and Confederate soldier who died in 1900, and Elizabeth (Edmundson) Giddens, of Georgia, who died in 1882.  Dr. Giddens was reared on his father’s plantation, received his early education in the public schools of the vicinity and the Thomasville high school. At seventeen years of age he became a teacher in the public schools but after one year resigned in order to take up the study of dentistry.  He entered the dental office of Dr. Alfred Smith of Valdosta, Ga., and remained there until 1881 when he matriculated at the Pennsylvania College of Dental Surgery.  He was graduated from this famous institution in 1883 and at once entered upon the practice of his chosen profession in Berrien county, Ga., but remained there only one year and in the fall of 1883 removed to Florida, selecting as his location, the thriving city of Tampa.  Two years later he went to Key West, practicing in the last named place for ten years.  In September, 1897, he returned to Tampa, which has been his home since, and where he has built up a large and lucrative practice.  Dr. Giddens is a member of the Florida State Dental society and belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church South, of which he is a steward and local clergyman.  He has been married twice, first in January, 1889 to Mary, daughter of James R. Curry, of Key West. She died in November, 1893.  His second wife was Miss Carrie Hammerly, of Tampa, formerly of Virginia, to who he was married September 15, 1898.  He has two daughters, Pauline C. and Fannie E., aged eleven and nine years respectively. The family is quite popular and enjoys a wide circle of acquaintances and friends.

Ray City Child Dies From Bite Of Rattle Snake, 1925

The September 4, 1925 Nashville Herald reported the tragic death of Merle Elizabeth Langford.

Child Dies From Bite Of Rattle Snake

     Little Muriel Langford, the 5-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Langford, who resides about a mile from Ray City on the Milltown-Ray City road died Tuesday morning from what was thought to be the bite of a rattle snake.

     The child was playing in a potato patch, near the house, while her mother was working nearby, when she cried out and ran to her mother. The mother thinking the child had fallen down and hurt herself took her into her arms to console it when she noticed that blood was oozing from her leg just above the ankle. Thinking that possibly the child had been bitten by a snake or some reptile the mother started for the house but before reaching the house the child had become limp.  The father, who was at the home of a brother nearby was notified and an effort to secure a physician in Ray City failing, Dr. Smith of Milltown was summoned and arrived within a short time after the child was bitten. Dr. Sloan of Stockton was passing and was also called in and both these physicians rendered all the aid that medical skill could give, but the child died within half an hour after their arrival. 

     The funeral services were held at Beaver Dam church and the internment took place in the church grave yard Wednesday, Rev A. W. Smith of Ray City and Hahira conducting the rites.

Merle Elizabeth Langford, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Merle Elizabeth Langford, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, Berrien County, GA.

Rattlesnakes have always been a part of Wiregrass Georgia.  The New Georgia Encyclopedia entry on Georgia folklore observes, “In its unburnt state, wiregrass became an integral part of the terrain and served as cover for wildlife, a place where quail might nest or predators like rattlesnakes might lurk.”    As early as 1763, European text were referring to the venomous rattlesnakes of Georgia.  A Universal History, published that year in London over-optimistically reported, “Their woods abound with … snakes-; but none of them, except the rattle-snake, are venomous and, as in Louisiana, the natives have a ready and infallible cure for its bite.”  By 1804, treatments for rattlesnake bites were discussed in Georgia newspapers. In the Southern Botanical Journal of  August 4, 1838  Thomas Fuller Hazzard of St. Simons Island discussed additional treatments for venomous reptile bites and cases where the victims survived. But  he also noted, “many persons die annually from the bites of poisonous reptiles in Georgia and Carolina.”

The New Georgia Encyclopedia goes on to discuss the Wiregrass ecosystem as a source for Georgia folklore and the rattlesnake motif in storytelling.

Rattlesnakes constitute another popular motif.  A rationale for ritually burning the forest, unchecked rattlesnake populations represent a real threat to people. Personal experience narratives, as the prime prose narrative form of our times, frequently function as cautionary tales, warning about this potential threat. Several wiregrass Georgia towns (Claxton, Whigham) annually host rattlesnake roundups. These festivals shift public attention to the prevalence of this dangerous species, especially since local laws prohibit burning the woods without a special permit. Instead, communities sponsor roundups in which competitors literally capture hundreds of snakes. Every year, for example, as many as 20,000 people attend the parade and festival in Whigham (population 605). Claxton promotes its roundup as “the beauty with the beasts” competition: the judging of the snake competition occurs at the same time as the crowning of the Roundup Queen.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  in Atlanta, GA only a handful of  snakebite fatalities occur  annually in the U.S. today.

Venomous snakes found in the United States include rattlesnakes, copperheads, cottonmouths/water moccasins, and coral snakes…. It has been estimated that 7,000–8,000 people per year receive venomous bites in the United States, and about 5 of those people die. The number of deaths would be much higher if people did not seek medical care….There are many species of rattlesnakes in the United States. Rattlesnakes are the largest of the venomous snakes in the United States. They can accurately strike at up to one-third their body length. Rattlesnakes use their rattles or tails as a warning when they feel threatened. Rattlesnakes may be found sunning themselves near logs, boulders, or open areas. These snakes may be found in most work habitats including the mountains, prairies, deserts, and beaches.

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Sargon Once A Sign of Ray City’s Prosperity

Sargon tonic was perhaps the most popular quack medicine of the Depression era.

Among the “Prosperity”  talk in the 1929 Nashville, GA newspaper article of the previous post was an obscure reference concerning the Ray City drug store operated by C.O. Terry.

“Another noticeable feature was a large sign across the rear end of the store reading “Sargon” which is evidence enough within itself to show that he [C.O. Terry] is the leading druggist of his section.”

Sargon, a patent medicine introduced in the summer of 1929 by the G.F. Willis company of Atlanta, was a wildly popular concoction. G.F. Willis was among the largest promoters of patent medicines and had already made millions from a similar quack formulation known as Tanlac.  Through a massive marketing campaign, Sargon was made available only through “Exclusive ” drug store agents. To the readership of 1929, the mere presence of a Sargon distributor in Ray City was evidence of the town’s prosperity.

Across the country, the newspapers were full of Sargon advertisements and testimonials.

A 1929 newspaper article from New York state illustrates the manufacturers promotional strategy:


 Local citizens who have heard of the amazing results which have been accomplished by Sargon will be interested in the important announcement that this new and scientific formula can now be obtained, in this city. Manufacturers of this revolutionary formula have followed out the policy of selecting outstanding firms as exclusive agents in every city where the new medicine has ‘been introduced.

Leading druggists everywhere have acclaimed it as a triumph in the field of modern medicine and have been eager to be among the first to supply it to their trade. Never before in the history of the world has the progress “of Medical Science been so rapid. One important discovery after another has been made which will have a far-reaching effect upon the health and well-being of mankind. Some of these discoveries are startling in the extreme and absolutely disprove many of the beliefs, practices and theories we have known.

As scientific investigators learn more and more about the human anatomy, the practice of medicine changes—the old is discarded for the new.  As a result of this world-wide medical research, Science has discovered that good health is largely governed and maintained by three vital organs and fluids of the body. These are the liver, the blood and the endocryne glands.   What is more important, we have learned that these organs and fluids can be stimulated and invigorated by certain basic elements.  Having knowledge of these important discoveries, one of America’s leading bio-chemists succeeded; afterword and one-half years of laboratory research, in combining these basic health-giving remedies of the age.

It is called Sargon.

This formula and the formula for Sargon Soft Mass Pills, which are an essential and integral part of the treatment, are the property of the Sargon Laboratories and can be obtained by no other firm or individual in the world.  This new scientific treatment, which represents much of our latest knowledge on modern therapy, has been acclaimed by  druggists throughout America as a triumph in the’ field of medicine. With the needs of their customers uppermost in their minds, leading druggists everywhere have been eager to be among the first to supply it to their trade.

Although introduced in the East since July 9th, Sargon has already become a household word. In Rochester alone, over 16,000 bottles of Sargon and Sargon Soft Mass Pills have been sold and distributed by local firms. Nothing like it has ever been seen before.     As a matter of fact, the marvelous success achieved by this remarkable medicine actually staggers the imagination. The demand for Sargon has been positively phenomenal and is probably unprecedented in the history of the drug trade. In the state of California alone, the astonishing total of eight entire carloads was required to supply the tremendous demand during the first sixty days this remarkable medicine was on sale. Six solid carloads were ordered by Texas firms the first ninety days after its introduction in that state. The success of Sargon in Minnesota has been so overwhelming that the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, are selling it at the rate of $200,000 a year through retail channels alone, to say nothing of the immense wholesale distribution: Over 250,000 bottles have been sold and distributed by Kansas City firms—Memphis wholesale and retail dealers have required more than 150,000 bottles—Atlanta retail firms are selling it. at the rate of 566,000 yearly.   These are actual figures which can easily be verified and the sales in other sections have been correspondingly large.

The ad would go on to disclose that the local drug store had become the exclusive dealer for Sargon, and that large quantities of the product were on the way.

By 1933 the Federal Trade Commission had called the G. F. Willis company to task:  the major ingredients of Sargon were grain alcohol and a laxative.    In stipulation proceedings, G.F. Willis conceded that it’s advertising of Sargon was misleading.  The Journal of the American Medical Association printed an abstract of the stipulation:

Sargon and Sargon Pills.—”Sargon” is a typical alcoholic “patent medicine” put out by G. F. Willis, Inc., of Atlanta, Ga. Willis was the former exploiter of “Tanlac,” a similar alcoholic nostrum. Sargon was declared misbranded under the Federal Food and Drugs Act because of false and fraudulent claims made for it. An abstract of the government’s case against this nostrum appeared in this department of The Journal, Jan. 3, 1931. “Sargon Soft Mass Pills” seem to be a complementary treatment that goes with Sargon and are, apparently, essentially phenolphthalein. G. F. Willis, Inc., has recently filed a stipulation with the Federal Trade Commission agreeing to cease publishing false or misleading statements and specifically to cease claiming: (1) That Sargon is based upon a new or revolutionary formula ; (2) that it accomplishes its results by new and amazing methods ; (3) that it is the result of world¬wide research ; (4) that signed statements approving Sargon pour in from physicians, and various other false and misleading claims. The concern also stipulated that it would cease misstating the official, professional or educational standing of persons giving testimonials, would cease publishing testimonials that had been altered so as to change their meaning, and would also cease using testimonials that had been paid for unless the fact that they had been paid for was given publicity.

Despite the agreement to quit making false claims about Sargon, the quack medicine would remain on the market for years.

Rachel Shaw Moore Dies of Typhoid Fever

Rachel J. Shaw was born July 21, 1855 in Berrien County, GA. She was the daughter of Civil War veteran  Richard James Shaw (1830 – 1869) and  Rachel Elizabeth Parker (1834 – ?). Some time after 1870, Rachel Shaw married James Burton Moore, a Berrien County farmer. Making their home near Rays Mill (nka Ray City)  in the 1157th Georgia Militia District,  the couple set about the next twenty something years raising crops and children.

In the summer of 1899, Rachel Shaw Moore came down with an illness that was serious enough to prompt  medical attention. In the sweltering dog days of August, Rachel drove her horse-drawn buggy the ten miles of dirt road from Ray’s Mill to the county seat at Nashville, GA.  There she saw Dr. Carter who gave the diagnosis of typhoid and undertook her treatment.

According to the National Library of Medicine, “Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection characterized by diarrhea, systemic disease, and a rash — most commonly caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). The bacteria that causes typhoid fever — S. typhi — spreads through contaminated food, drink, or water. If you eat or drink something that is contaminated, the bacteria enters your body, and goes into your intestines, and then into your bloodstream, where it can travel to your lymph nodes, gallbladder, liver, spleen, and other parts of the body. Early symptoms include fever, general ill-feeling, and abdominal pain. A high (over 103 degrees) fever and severe diarrhea occur as the disease gets worse. Some people with typhoid fever develop a rash called “rose spots,” which are small red spots on the belly and chest.

Since 1880, the bacterial cause of typhoid fever had been known. The disease was spread by poor sanitation practices.

Typhoid fever exemplified the effectiveness of sanitation practices based on both the old filth theory of disease and at the same time incorporating the new tenets of bacteriology. When the salmonella typhi bacillus was identified (1880) and traced to contaminated water supplies, it underscored the necessity of providing clean water… 

Bacteriologists had perfected water filtering methods by the 1890s  which led to the development of water treatment systems for safe drinking water in the cities. At least in the urban centers, these water filtration systems effectively reduced the illness and death caused  by typhoid. “Yet typhoid did not disappear. In 1900, over 35,000 deaths in the United States were attributed to typhoid.” It would still be some years before scientists understood that apparently healthy individuals could harbor and transmit typhoid.  Mary Mellon of New York, “Typhoid Mary” was the most notorious case.

In the case of Rachel Moore, her condition continued to decline “despite medical treatment.’  It would be another 60 years before doctors understood the critical need for hydration in the treatment of typhoid.

Rachel Shaw Moore died on  a Monday – August 14, 1899 at Ray City, GA. She was buried at the cemetery at Cat Creek Primitive Baptist Church, a few miles southwest of Ray City.   She was survived by her husband, James Burton Moore, and six children:

 Lilly Moore 23
Minnie Moore 21
J Lacy Moore 20
Mamie Moore 13
Ora Moore 11
Janie Moore 9
Ounie Moore 6
Aulie Moore 2

Valdosta Times
Saturday, August 19, 1899
Mrs. Burton Moore Dead.
    Mrs. Burton Moore, an estimable lady of the Ray’s Mill settlement, died Tuesday evening after an illness of ten days with typhoid fever.  Her funeral was conducted at Cat Creek on Wednesday and was largely attended.  She leaves a husband and several children to mourn her death. Three of her daughters are about grown, though the other children are small.  She was about forty years old and an estimable woman. She leaves a large circle of friends to sympathize with the bereaved ones.

 Valdosta Times
Tuesday, August 22, 1899
Death of Mrs. J.B. Moore.
    We regret to chronicle the death of Mrs. J.B. Moore near Ray’s Mill on the 14th inst. This intelligence will cause widespread grief as the deceased was an exceedingly popular lady and leaves a large circle of friends and relatives to mourn her untimely death.
    About two weeks ago, she came  to Nashville in her buggy to consult Dr. Carter.  She had fever at that time, and doubtless the ride in the hot sun was bad for her.
    In spite of all that medical skill and loving hands could do, she sank steadily until death came on the night of the 14th.
    Mrs. Moore died from a complication of diseases.
    Our sympathies are tendered the bereaved ones.  – Nashville South Georgian.



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