Hamilton Sharpe and Lafayette

When General Lafayette, hero of the American Revolution, returned to Georgia in 1825 great crowds thronged to Savannah for his arrival. Among those who gathered to greet the great man was Hamilton Sharpe,  pioneer settler of Lowndes County, GA.

Marquis de Lafayette, from Memoirs of General La Fayette, published 1825.

Marquis de Lafayette, from Memoirs of General La Fayette, published 1825.

“Arriving in Savannah on March 19, 1825, the sixty-seven-year-old Lafayette disembarked from his steamboat to a salute from the Chatham Artillery and the cheers of the crowd. The most poignant moments of his stay in Savannah came when he laid the cornerstones for monuments honoring two other Revolutionary War heroes, Count Casimir Pulaski and General Nathanael Greene.”  – New Georgia Encyclopedia

Hamilton W. Sharpe was just a boy when Lafayette visited Savannah, but his memory of the occasion lasted a lifetime. Sharpe grew up in Tatnall County, but when “a young man hardly in his twenties, had come down from Tatnall County over the Coffee Road, and decided to locate near the home of Hon. Sion Hall at whose home the first court in Lowndes [county] was held a few months afterwards.  So young Sharpe built a small store building out of logs near the Sharpe home; that was in 1826. 

Sharpe’s Store, on the Coffee Road, was the first commercial establishment  in Lowndes County, and became an early post office for the area.  Sharpe was active in politics, and served as a captain of local militia in the Indian Wars.  In religion, Hamilton W. Sharpe was a Methodist. He conducted a large bible class at old Bethlehem Church in Lowndes County, and was a friend and neighbor of Reverend Robert H. Howren. He was a trustee of the Fletcher Institute, of Thomasville, GA.  In his later years he was an innkeeper at Quitman, GA.

Hamilton Wynn Sharpe

Hamilton Wynn Sharpe

In 1886, Hamilton W. Sharpe wrote of his memories of Lafayette in a letter to the editor of the Savannah Morning News (reprinted in the Oct 6, 1886 edition of the Waycross Headlight.)   Sharpe refers to his guests at  the Sharpe House as “inmates” and goes on to reminisce about the weather, his father’s business in Savannah, the Planters Hotel, and the people and places he knew in Savannah:

1886-oct-6-hamilton-w-sharpe

     Editor Morning News:  It has just been remarked by one of our inmates: “How awfully warm it is!”  This remark induced a peep at the themometer-not quite 90 deg.  This does not indicate very warm weather for the middle of September, but I notice that there is no rustling among the leaves on the  trees. Every thing is as “still as the breeze;” not even a shaking, and therefore I conclude that it is owning not so much to the intensity of the heat as the lack of wind, for I do not remember to have seen so little wind in the month of September so far.
      While I confess a deep sympathy for the citizens of our neighboring city of Charleston in all her unparalleled sufferings I am grateful, too, that your city, the emporium of the State of Georgia, has suffered less.
      The writer, though now 80 years of age, has a very distinct recollection of Savannah when but a little boy.  Along with his father, time and again, he visited the city to obtain many of the necessaries and luxuries of life. These were the days of small things to Savannah, compared to her present grand improvements.  Then the principal business of the city was done around the market square and north to the river.  The wholesale houses were principally from Nos. 1 to 8 Gibbons’ buildings, and there was no such thing as the Pulaski House, or the Marshall or Screven House.  The Planters’ Hotel was at that time the hotel of the city.
       Sometimes I have a very distinct recollection of the men with whom my father traded at the time – such men as Gildon, Edward Coppee and others – and the late Thomas Holcombe was a boy about my own age and size.
       Your stately printing and publishing hous was not there to adorn the cornner of Bay and Whitaker streets, nor was there any other important public buildings save the old Exchange.
       It was there the writer happening to be in the city, pressed himself along with the crowd, when the procession was formed in the long room of the Exchange to look upon the venerable features of Gen. Lafayette and shake his hand.  I have always been proud of the occasion and the act.  The next day the corner stone of the Greene and Pulaski monument in Johnson Square was laid.  Gen. Lafayette was the Grand Master of the occasion, and the following words were sung, to wit:

“And around thy brow will twine
The tender leaf of green which grew
In days of Auld Lange Syne.”

      And the wreath in the hands of one of Savannah’s beautiful daughters was fittingly and gracefully twined around the head of the venerable man whose name will ever be dear to Americans.
          The words were sung to the tune, “Auld Lang Syne.”
         Should you ever wander as far as Quitman inquire for Tranquil Hall or the Sharpe House, and you will find the house persided over by two old people who will be glad to see the editor of the Morning News, and will treat him kindly. Our prayer is that both your city and your sister City by the Sea will be relieved for the future of any further shaking up.

H. W. S.

Additional notes:

  • Charles Gildon was a Savannah, Georgia storekeeper. He is referenced in early Savannah newspapers between 1805 and 1855. Gildon’s shop was located on Lot 6, Digby Tything, Decker Ward which faced Ellis Square from 1815-1823.
  • Edward Coppee was a physician and merchant of Savannah, operating businesses at a number of locations in the city.
  • Thomas Holcombe (1815-1885) was a wholesale grocer of Savannah, and served as Mayor of the city during the civil war.

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Ray City Theater shows Destination Moon

Ray City Theater 1950

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

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

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

AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by markbult

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

New Ray City Theater Opens Friday Night

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

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

 

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

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

Transcription courtesy of Skeeter Parker

 

It Happened In Ray City

1958-it-happened-in-georgia1958 

Augustine Collier of Ray City, Ga., saw a six-foot snake crawling across her flowerbed, followed by 24 baby snakes.

Augustine Collier, Ray City, Ga.

Patterson Hotel Built by Lon Fender in 1912

The Patterson Hotel, built by Lon Fender, opened for business on July 15, 1912 in Valdosta, GA.  Lon Fender was involved in some biggest business deals in Wiregrass Georgia and in the history of Ray City, GA.  He owned farmland near here in the 1920s and a  turpentine still at Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.

The Patterson Hotel, Valdosta, GA was built in 1912 by Lon Fender and Eugenia Devine.  At the time it was the most luxurious hotel in south Georgia.

The Patterson Hotel, Valdosta, GA was built in 1912 by Lon Fender and Eugenia Devine. At the time it was the most luxurious hotel in south Georgia.

The Patterson Hotel located at the corner of Patterson and Savannah Avenues was built on the site of another hotel, the Florence Hotel. It was torn down to make way for a parking lot.

The Patterson Hotel located at the corner of Patterson and Savannah Avenues was built on the site of another hotel, the Florence Hotel. It was torn down to make way for a parking lot.

 

William Lon Fender, photographed circa 1924, lived near Ray City, Berrien County, GA where he was engaged in the naval stores industry.

William Lon Fender, photographed circa 1924, lived near Ray City, Berrien County, GA where he was engaged in the naval stores industry.

William Alonzo “Lon” Fender was a son of William Alfred Fender (1836-1920) and Susannah Allen (1841-1920).  His father was a Civil War  veteran and a farmer of the Naylor district, Lowndes County, GA, later moving to Ray City, GA. His wife, Texas Irene Hagan, was a daughter of Civil War veteran John W. Hagan and Mary Smith.

The Fenders had a knack for the hotel business. Lon Fender’s cousin, William Seaboarn Fender,  was an investor in the Valdosta Hotel Company. His brother, Wilson W. Fender, operated the Fender Hotel at Ray City.

In 1911, Lon Fender partnered with Eugenia Prescott Devine (1850-1927), widow of William H. Devine (1849-1887) to build a modern brick hotel in Valdosta, GA. The Patterson Hotel Company was incorporated in 1912, with a capital stock of $25,000.

This building, the Patterson Hotel, replaced the old Florence Hotel, where Ray City residents Benjamin L. Starling and , stayed during the 1909 Carnival Week and the flight of the Strobel Air Ship.

 

 

In 1911, The Valdosta Times reported that Lon Fender would build the Hotel Patterson.

In 1911, The Valdosta Times reported that Lon Fender would build the Hotel Patterson.

 

Valdosta Times
May 6, 1911

New Hotel Is Now Assured

Work of Tearing Down the Old Florence will Begin as Soon as Possible.

(From Tuesday’s Daily)

       Within the next few days the old Florence hotel will be torn down to make room for a magnificent new hotel which is to go up in its place.
        If you want to buy the Florence almost at your own price, provided you will agree to move it off the ground which it now occupied without any delay. Work on the new hotel cannot commence until the old building is removed and it is decided to begin the work on the new one right away.
        Mr. W. L. Fender this morning closed a trade with Mrs. Devine by which he comes into possession of the ground now occupied by the Florence Hotel, extending eighty feet on Patterson street and two hundred and eleven feet on Savannah avenue.  Mr. Fender is to be leading spirit in building the new hotel, but it is understood Mrs. Devine will be interested in the new building.
        Mr. Curran Ellis, the well known architect, has already prepared the plans for the new hotel and he was in the city this morning and submitted them to Mr. Fender and Mrs. Devine.
       The new hotel will be five stories and will be one of the handsomest structures of its size in the state.
       It will have between ninety and one hundred rooms and every room will have hot and cold water and most of the rooms will have baths attached. The building will have a handsome passenger elevator running from the lobby to the top floor.
        The hotel will have handsome columns extending out over the Patterson street sidewalk with a main entrance on Patterson street but with another entrance on Savannah avenue. There will be a store room on the corner of Patterson street and Savannah avenue to be occupied by a drug store while there will be another store room on the west side of the building to be occupied as an up-to-date cafe. Between these two store rooms will be a colonnade leading to the office and lobby. The kitchen will be on the southwest corner of the building and the dining room will be on the west side as the present one in the Florence hotel.
        The maid p—- —- be on the second floor and on the east side, leading to a large veranda overlooking Patterson street. The building is to be equipped in the very best of styles and it is to be a credit to a town of twenty-five thousand people.  Mr. Fender and Mrs. Devine have already had flattering offers from well known hotel men for a lease of the building.
       Mr. Ellis, the architect is expected to have the working plans completed within a day or two and it is understood that the contract for the work will be let just as soon as possible. Prominent contractors were here this morning figuring on the new building.
       The completion of this new hotel will be the biggest work done in Valdosta during the present year. It will transform the appearance of the city and will give passengers on all of the roads a good view of the imposing structure.

 

Atlanta Constitution, May 12, 1912

Atlanta Constitution, May 12, 1912

 

Atlanta Constitution
May 12, 1912

Little Items of Georgia Cities
Valdosta Hotels.

Valdosta, Ga., May 5. -(Special.) – William Foor, proprietor of the Aragon hotel at Jacksonville, Fla., yesterday closed a ten-year lease for the handsome new hotel built by W.L. Fender and Mrs. Devine in this city. The terms of the lease have not been made public, but a very satisfactory price was received by the owners. The new hotel will open about the 20th of June.The building will be ready for the furnishings within the next few weeks.There are few hansomer hotels in this part of the state than the new structure. The owners of the Valdes hotel have announced their intention to enlarge and refurnish the hotel as soon as the lease of Mr. Ferrell, the present manager, expires in September. The proposed improvements will make the Valdes probably the most handsome hotel in southern Georgia, and will place Valdosta in the front rank in hotel accommodations.

 

Atlanta Constitution, July 12, 1912. The Hotel Patterson prepared for a grand opening on July 15, 1912.

Atlanta Constitution, July 12, 1912. The Hotel Patterson prepared for a grand opening on July 15, 1912.

Atlanta Constitution
 July 12, 1912

Little Items of Georgia Cities
Hotel Patterson to Open.

Valdosta, Ga. Valdosta’s new hotel, the Hotel Patterson, will be thrown open to the public on the 15th instant. The furnishings which are of the best class, are being installed rapidly and the finishing touches to the building are being pushed. Manager William Foor of Jacksonville, who has leased the property for a number of years, will devote much of his personal time to the hotel and is determined to have it open by the 15th of the month, even if some minor details are not completely finished by then. The house is one of the neatest and most comfortably appointed hotels in the state. It’s kitchen and dining room equipment is of the most modern character and so far as quality goes is not excelled. The building is of pressed brick, four stories with basement, but the owners propose to add two more stories during the latter part of the year or early next spring. Mr. Foor has already signed a contract for the lease of the additional floors. 

 

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The Demon Rears its Head in Ray City

Demon Alcohol

Georgia passed state Prohibition in 1907, with Ray City’s own Jonathan Perry Knight among those leading the charge, and did not repeal it until 1935.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia,

“An 1885 statute granted voters the right to impose prohibition in the county where they lived. By 1907 most counties had voted themselves dry. That same year the state legislature enacted mandatory statewide prohibition, one of the moral reforms demanded by Progressives throughout the South. The Atlanta race riot of 1906 probably encouraged the enactment of prohibition;”

[Racist newspapers controlled by Georgia’s leading politicians incited white mob violence  against Atlanta’s African American residents with lurid and unsubstantiated allegations of assaults by black men on white women – assaults which were blamed on black saloon goers.]

 “whites feared the consequences of African Americans’ drinking, and furthermore, white mobs originated in bars and saloons.”

The new law went into effect in 1908. For a time the legislature offered the “wets” some loopholes—near-beer saloons serving low-alcohol drinks were permitted, as were alcoholic beverages in locker-clubs—but these were closed in 1915. Georgia ratified the Eighteenth Amendment for national prohibition three years later. It did not vote for repeal of national prohibition, but after that occurred, Georgia repealed its own statewide prohibition in 1935.”

Prohibition didn’t stop drinking in Ray City. There were plenty of “blind tigers” running stills and selling liquor in Berrien County, despite the efforts of lawmen like Jim Griner, Bruner Shaw and Cauley Shaw.   In 1919,  reports of drunkenness and lawlessness in Ray City were making newspapers throughout the section.

Bootleg alcohol in Berrien County, 1919.

Bootleg alcohol in Berrien County, 1919.

Tifton Gazette
March 14, 1919, Page 2

The Demon Rears Its Head.

        This from the Valdosta Times: “People who came in from Ray City the past day or two said that some of the carousing element in that locality have been having some lively times during the past few days. They had gotten hold of a lot of moonshine liquor, the kind that simple makes a man forget himself and everything else. There were several free fights and a good deal of threatening and a considerable amount of gun play. The lifely times reached their climax about last Thursday night. Things have been getting quieter since then.”
        Perhaps for many communities throughout South Georgia this would be an apt description of affairs. Certainly the illicit manufacture of whiskey has brought about a situation worse than existed while whiskey was legally sold in the state.
        The stuff made in practically every community and sold at such prices that the traffic yields immense profits is said to be of such character that it not only robs men of reason but robs them of health as well containing so much potash as to be little short of poison. Perhaps present conditions are only transitory, but certainly they are bad. They may readjust themselves after awhile, but prompt and vigorous measures will do much toward bringing this readjustment about.

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4th of July, 1914 a Big Day at Milltown

Independence Day at Milltown, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

1914 Independence Day was celebrated at Milltown, now Lakeland, GA

Tifton Gazette
July 3, 1914

Big Day at Milltown

       Milltown, Ga., June 23. – The business men of Milltown and the people generally throughout this section have come together and will, on the Fourth day of July celebrate Independence Day with a mammoth fish fry, free to everybody, who spends that day with us. It is the intention to have something like 2,000 pounds of fried fresh water fish here that day, besides other eatables.
      The present prospect is that there will be at least 5,000 here on that occasion. In addition to the free fish fry, there will be a ball game between Milltown and Homerville, boat races, foot races, and other interesting sports. The boat races will take place on Lake Irma, an artificial body of water right in the center of town, covering about 12 acres. On the bank of this beautiful lake is a skating rink, where a contest in fancy skating will occur.
      The Waycross and Western railroad will run an excursion from Waycross and the Milltown Air Line one from Naylor, where it connects with the Atlantic Coast Line. Word comes that every available automobile in Valdosta, Hahira, Nashville, Adel, Sparks, Rays Mill and other nearby towns have been engaged to bring the crowds to Milltown on the glorious Fourth. This is claimed to be the greatest fish fry in the history of all time, except one.
      Milltown is in the very heart of the finest fishing territory in the whole south. Only one mile away is the famous Bank’s Pond, covering 11,000 acres of land and abounding in the choicest and gamest of fish.

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Ray City Girls Form Athletic Club, 1947

Ray City, Ga in the 1940s took particular pride in the girls athletic teams of the Ray City School.  The local newspapers were full of stories about the girls basketball team challenging the neighboring communities or competing in tournament play. After the construction of the gym at the Ray City School hometown pride swelled even further.  The gym, which could seat 1,100 spectators, was dedicated in 1947. That year the Ray City girls organized their own Athletic Club.

1947-Ray-City-Girls-Athletic-Club

The Nashville Herald
September 18, 1947

Ray City Girls Form Athletic Club and Name New Officers

RAY CITY – The Ray City High School girls met September 9 in order to form an Athletic club and elect officers.
They are: Louise Williams, president, Virginia Dampier, vice president, Carolyn Scarborough, secretary and treasurer, Jean Studstill reporter.
Other members of the club are Farlene Wilson, Judith Moore, Dianne Miley, Helen Wood, Winona Williams, Ruth Webb, Betty Jean Huff, Marlene Knight, Jeanette Fender, Hilda Faye Register, Peggy Johnson, Lullene Rouse, Jeraldine Sirmans, Edith Monk, Betty Rose Purvis, Carolyn McLendon, Betty Jo Cook, Hazel Gray, Mary Register, Carolyn Register.

Winona Williams, 1948, Ray City High School

Winona Williams, 1948, Ray City High School

Helen Wood, 1948, Ray City High School

Helen Wood, 1948, Ray City High School

Jean Studstill, 1948, Ray City High School

Jean Studstill, 1948, Ray City High School

Judy Moore, of Ray City, GA, 1950 freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

Judy Moore, of Ray City, GA, 1950 freshman at Georgia State Womans College.

Diane Miley, 1948-1949 school photo.

Diane Miley, 1948-1949 school photo.

Peggy Johnson, 1949, Ray City High School

Peggy Johnson, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jean Huff, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jean Huff, 1949, Ray City High School

Lullene Rouse, 1950, Ray City School

Lullene Rouse, 1950, Ray City School

Betty Jo Cook, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Jo Cook, 1949, Ray City High School

Betty Purvis, 1950, Ray City High School

Betty Purvis, 1950, Ray City High School

Hazel Croy, 1950, Ray City High School

Hazel Croy, 1950, Ray City High School

Geraldine Sirmans, 1948, Ray City High School

Geraldine Sirmans, 1948, Ray City High School

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Ray City Girls and Boys at Camp Wilkins

Ray City School students were among the girls and boys who attended 1931 summer courses at Camp Wilkins in Athens, GA. Camp Wilkins was built in 1924 as the first state 4-H camp in the nation.

According to the New Georgia Encyclopedia,

 “The roots of the Georgia 4-H Club began in 1904 in Newton County as a countywide boys’ corn club. Statewide corn- and cotton-growing contests were held in 1906. Chicken and pig contests were held in 1908. In that same year the program was also extended to black youngsters. Club work for girls began in Hancock County in 1906 and consisted of garden clubs, tomato clubs, and canning clubs. By 1911 more than 1,500 girls were active in the pre-4-H Club activities.  In 1924 the nation’s first state 4-H camp, Camp Wilkins, was built on the University of Georgia campus.”
1925-camp-wilkins

Cooking breakfast at Camp Wilkins, a part of Georgia State College of Agriculture, after a nature hike. Circa 1925-1932. Image source: Vanishing Georgia, Georgia Division of Archives and History, Office of Secretary of State.

 In  the summer of 1931 a number of local Ray City youth and adults attended Camp Wilkins, the first 4-H camp in Georgia.  Camp Wilkins offered  summer course programs June 14 through August 13 through the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts in Athens, GA, at the University of Georgia.

“BOYS’ AND GIRLS’ SHORT COURSES AT CAMP WILKINS

A short course of nine weeks is given every summer for the boys and girls who have won scholarships in the different agricultural and home economics clubs of the state. This course is also open to boys and girls who do not win scholarships.

Scholarships in the short courses are given by fair associations, chambers of commerce, women’s clubs, banks, and other public-spirited organizations and individuals who are interested in stimulating education in agriculture and home economics among boys and girls.

Every year more than 2,000 boys and girls take advantage of the elementary instruction which is made very practical indeed and is visualized as far as possible by application and illustration.”

Among the boys attending from Ray City were Bernard Johnson (RCHS 1930), Brown King (RCHS 1930),  Leland Langford  (RCHS, 1939),  J. D. Luke, Billy McDonald,  James Swindle  (RCHS, 1936). The girls were Clyde Carter (RCHS 1936), Margaret Carter  (RCHS 1930), Mabel McDonald (RCHS 1930), Clyde Moore, Doris Swindle  (RCHS 1930), and Grace Swindle, and Beth Terry (RCHS 1930).  Ray City adults Chloe Gardener Johnson   and Carrie McDonald were also at Camp Wilkins, attending a summer course for farm women.   The 4-H activities in Berrien County were coordinated by County Agricultural Agent Donald L. Branyon, and the Home Demonstration Agent was Mary Nell Davis.  In Georgia, there were also Negro Boys’ clubs, Negro Home Demonstration Clubs, Negro Agricultural Agents and Negro Home Demonstration Agents, but none serving Berrien County.  The black division of 4-H was headquartered at Savannah State College (now Savannah State University), and separate events were held for its members in Dublin, GA.
Announcement of the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts for the session 1932-1933 with Register of Officers and Students for the Session 1931-1932, Athens, Georgia

Announcement of the Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanical Arts for the session 1932-1933 with Register of Officers and Students for the Session 1931-1932, Athens, Georgia

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

 ♦

Camp Wilkins

Club girls at Camp Wilkins studying home foundation plantings and shrubbery, 1925.  The building is Barrow Hall on the UGA campus.

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA

Horticulture class at Camp Wilkins, Athens, GA, 1925

 ♦

Athens, June 17-22, 1929. Farm women's camp, Georgia home demonstration council.

Athens, June 17-22, 1929. Farm women’s camp, Georgia home demonstration council.

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Preacher Shaw and the Berrien Blue Jays

Preacher Shaw in uniform of the Berrien Blue Jays, 1948.   Image courtesy of www,berriencountyga.com

Preacher Shaw in uniform of the Berrien Blue Jays, 1948. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

From at least the 1880s, baseball was popular among the small towns of Berrien County, GA.  Ray City has produced a number of high school, college and minor league baseball players and coaches, and at least one major league player.  One local baseball legend was Fondren Willie Mitchell Shaw of Ray City, GA, better known as Preacher Shaw.

According to family member Bryan Shaw, Preacher Shaw, was the seventh born child of Jesse Shelby “Dock” Shaw and Susie Bullard Shaw.  He was born May 13, 1906, in a log home on the west bank of Possum Branch, in the New Lois community near Ray City, Georgia and grew up in a nearby home. He was educated in county schools at Pine Grove and Kings Chapel.

From Bryan Shaw’s family newsletter comes the following:

[Preacher Shaw had a] great love of baseball. During his adult years, he became a gifted ball player, always ready to be coaxed away from the mule and plow to engage in any pick-up game his fellow ball players would draft for him.

In Lamar Blanton’s book, “Tales of Ray’s Mill,” he reflects on his recollection of Preacher Shaw the ball player:

The most famous of the baseball players in our part of the state was a man nicknamed “Preacher,” a title that he somehow obtained without any evident relevant behavior on his part.  Preacher was considerably older than the other members of our team, but age is no handicap to a pitcher who is the complete master of a baseball.  His repertoire included virtually every pitch that has ever been named in baseball jargon. Being past his prime, his fastball did not exactly whistle any more, but he resorted to a vast variety of curves, and speed did not really matter, for it was only an infrequent accident that the hitter was able to get his bat anywhere near a pitch thrown by Preacher.  And all of the time that old son-of-a-gun would just stand there on the mound, grinning with infuriating devilishment as batter after batter left the plate to sit down in complete frustration.

Some of the visiting teams refused to play unless it was agreed that Preacher would not pitch.  He could hold any other position, for he was no better than an average ball player in a non-pitching role, but it was considered an unfair advantage for him to be on the mound.

He and his brother Charlie, who played shortstop, were often recruited by the local ball clubs to beef up their rosters. (Charlie was killed in an auto-train accident in 1937). Preacher actively played he sport until 1948, being listed on the April roster of the semi-pro Berrien Blue Jays that year. However, he was not listed as an active player by the end of the season.

Reprint courtesy of Bryan Shaw.

Preacher Shaw (standing, far right), of Ray City, GA played for the Berrien Blue Jays semi-pro baseball team in 1948.

Preacher Shaw (standing, far right), of Ray City, GA played for the Berrien Blue Jays semi-pro baseball team in 1948. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

See more photos of the Berrien Blue Jays at http://www.berriencountyga.com

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Claudie Belle Hester and the Easter Egg Hunt

Claudey Belle Hester was a student at the Ray City School in 1920.  She was born about 1906, a daughter of Annie L. Jolly and Luther Hester.  Her father died about 1909 and she, her brother and mother went to live with her grandparents, Julia and Colwell C. Jolly.  Her grandparents rented a home on Charles Street in Alapaha, GA. where her grandfather worked at a sawmill.

Her mother re-married in 1913 to John S. Cone, and Claudie went with her mother to live on her step-father’s farm near Ray City, GA.

At age 14, Claudie wrote an essay about an Easter egg hunt at Ray City, and submitted it to the Progressive Farmer for publication.

Claudie Belle Hester's 1920 essay about Easter at the Ray City, GA school was published in the Progressive Farmer.

, Claudie Belle Hester’s 1920 essay about Easter at the Ray City, GA school was published in the Progressive Farmer.

Saturday, May 1, 1920

An Egg Hunt and Candy Pulling

On Friday before Easter our teacher decided that we should have an egg hunt, and we then decided to have a candy pulling at the same time.
The children brought syrup and eggs on Saturday and the boys gathered fuel and built a fire in the stove. Two girls assisted me in cooking the candy. We cooked three lots, the first and last being pretty and white, but the second lot was not quite so good.
While the candy was cooling, we colored the eggs and got them ready for hiding. The candy was soon cool enough to pull, and we helped each other pull it until it was white and brittle.
After we had eaten some candy, we three girls and the assistant teacher hid the eggs. In all we had about 150 eggs, one was a large goose egg. The boy who brought this egg said the one finding it could eat it. We hid it in the mailbox, and guess who found it. The teacher. All the eggs were found but two.

Claudey Belle Hester
Ray City, Ga.

 

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