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 It did not vote for repeal of national prohibition, but after that occurred, Georgia repealed its own statewide prohibition in 1935.”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. You might say it was a Wiregrass tradition. Prior to the state prohibition, alcohol was widely produced in Georgia. Wiregrass pioneers brewed their own farm beverages – wine, buck, cane beer, or liquor. On court days, liquor was an expected stapleNumerous toasts were drunk at social events. In the days of old Lowndes County, before Berrien County was formed, the county seat at Troupville was considered a wild and wicked town…with much drinking.  Licenses for legal, market production of liquor were issued by the state.  In the late 1870s even Nashville, GA had its own whiskey distillery.

After Prohibition passed there were still 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.


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.”

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.


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,

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

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

See more photos of the Berrien Blue Jays at

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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.


1914 Nashville Nine

At age 16 Dewey Knight was a coach and player for the Nashville High School baseball team of 1914. A son of Jonathan Perry Knight and Ada Parrish, he  was born at Rays Mill, GA (now Ray City) on May 1, 1898, but grew up in Nashville, Georgia.   Team mascot Lucius Eugene Griner was a son of James B. “Jim” Griner, who would later serve as Police Chief of Ray City.


1914 Nashville Nine

Nashville High School Nine.  The players in the photo are, left to right: Standing, Dewey Knight, Sub and coach; Noble Hull, pitcher and manager; Emory Gary, first base; Robert Hendricks,second base; June Norwood, short-stop; Willie Peeples, catcher and captain.  Sitting: Homer Connell, centerfield; Lucius Griner, mascot; Basom Webb, left field; Hobart Alexander, third base; Alvah Webb, right field.

Nashville High School Nine. The players in the photo are, left to right: Standing, Dewey Knight, Sub and coach; Noble Hull, pitcher and manager; Emory Gary, first base; Robert Hendricks,second base; June Norwood, short-stop; Willie Peeples, catcher and captain. Sitting: Homer Connell, center field; Lucius Griner, mascot; Basom Webb, left field; Hobart Alexander, third base; Alvah Webb, right field.

The Atlanta Constitution
March 8, 1914

Nashville High School Nine 1914

Nashville, Ga., March 7. – (Special.) The Nashville High school ball team was organized Friday, February 12. The boys elected Noble Hull manager unanimously. Willie Peeples was made captain of the squad, while June Norwood will be treasurer.

The school heretofore has not had an organized ball team, and there it is very evident that it will make a “hit” with the school as well as the surrounding community.

The teachers have all pledged themselves to do all they can for the maintenance of the organization financially and otherwise.

The team is preparing a play from which the proceeds will go for the support of said team. Other measures of obtaining funds have and will be resorted to.

The boys work together “better than any bunch that have ever worn Nashville uniforms.” They are all about the same size and are capable of understanding each other magnificently.

The boys of said team claim that they are “unbeatable” by any high school team of south Georgia. Beginning with March 14 the boys challenge any high school for one or three games.

Address all challenges to N. A. Hull, Manager


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Monument to Culpepper Mullis

Culpepper Mullis was a young man of Berrien County before the Civil War.   He was apparently somewhat of a rowdy and prone to riding while intoxicated.

A son of Catherine and Thomas Mullis, he was born about 1834 in North Carolina but came with his parents and siblings to Georgia about 1841.  Shortly thereafter his father died, when Culpepper was about nine years of age. In the census of 1850, Culpepper was enumerated in his  widowed mother’s household, which at that time was  in Lowndes County, GA..  In 1855 his mother married Blank Lee.  Their place was apparently in the neighborhood of Milltown (now Lakeland) in that part of Berrien County which was later cut into Lanier County.   

Old monument to Culpepper Mullis. Tifton Gazette, Dec 7, 1864.

Old monument to Culpepper Mullis. Tifton Gazette, Dec 7, 1864.

Tifton Gazette
Dec 7, 1864.

There is a monument on the side of Mud Creek road, about one mile north of Milltown, which tells the passer-by of a very sad tragedy which occurred there before the war. A young white man, Culpepper Mullis, had been to town where he had imbibed very freely of mean whiskey; he was riding his horse very recklessly, enroute home, when the horse threw him against a pine and broke his neck. The pine tree was cut down leaving a stump about seven or eight feet high, this stump was trimmed to a square and an inscription of the facts engraved thereon. The inscription however, is almost obliterated with age.

A Byrd, a Starling, and an Airship at Carnival Week

1909 carnival at Valdosta, GA

1909 carnival at Valdosta, GA

In early November 1909, people from all around the state began to pile into Valdosta, Georgia.  They came from Naylor, Council, Nashville, Adel, Sparks, Milltown (Lakeland), Hahira, Statenville, Quitman, Cairo, Bainbridge,  Mineola, Tarver, Alexanderville, Howell, Dupont, Broxton, Hawkinsville, Thomasville and Camilla. They came from Atlanta and Macon and Savannah. Up from Florida, they came from Hampton, Lake City, Jasper, Jennings, White Springs, Madison and Jacksonville. They came from Kentucky, New York, and Washington, D.C.

They had come to see the great carnival held in Valdosta November 9th to 13th.  The carnival promised exhibits of trained animals, a dog and pony show, “the Human Butterfly”, free exhibition by “the Clown Elephant” on the streets of Valdosta, an automobile Calliope, and two brass bands.  Most especially, they had come to see the Strobel Airship –  the first flying craft  ever to visit this part of the country – billed as “the greatest attraction ever seen here”. All the railroads offered excursion rates with daily round trips.

From Ray’s Mill, Georgia came B.L. Starling and F. M. Byrd.   The 1910 Census shows  Frank Byrd was a ‘machinist’ living in the Ray’s Mill District. Benjamin L. Starling was a farmer renting a farm in the 1157 Georgia Militia District, near the farms of Harmon L. Floyd, William Outlaw and Lucius Galveston Outlaw  (L. G. Outlaw’s place became known as the J. C. Rowan place).

Starling and Byrd  arrived on Saturday, November 6, 1909  and, like many of the visitors, stayed at Valdosta’s Florence Hotel.  The hotel was located on South Patterson Street, Valdosta GA just across the street from the railway depot. The location was ideal because the train station was the site where the Strobel Airship would be launched.


Florence Hotel, Valdosta GA

Florence Hotel, Valdosta GA

The Strobel Airship was an early dirigible balloon large enough to take one man aloft, who rode in open rigging below the balloon.  “The envelope of this mechanical marvel is 53 feet long and 14 1-2 feet in diameter. It is made of he finest Japanese silk and is inflated with 8,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas which is the lightest substance known to science.”

Strobel Airship appeared in Valdosta in 1909 (photographed in Michigan)

Strobel Airship appeared in Valdosta in 1909 (photographed in Michigan)

Just one year earlier 25,000 spectators watched a pilot of one of the Strobel Airships plunge 500 feet to his death, after the hydrogen filled aircraft burst into flames during a flight at a county fair in Waterville, Maine.  But after several delays, the crowd in Valdosta witnessed  what was an impressive and successful flight.

Strobel Airship flew in Valdosta, GA in 1909

Strobel Airship flew in Valdosta, GA in 1909

Valdosta Times

Strobel airship made a beautiful Flight To-day

There was more rubber-necking in Valdosta today than all the people in the old town ever did before in all of their lives.  The reason:  The airship went up.      Although the weather four or five hundred feet above the surface of the earth was rather stiff for a successful flight, Prof. Owens sailed over a considerable portion of the town, remaining in the air about fifteen minutes.  The ascension was made at 12:15. Promptly at twelve o’clock the aerial bomb which is exploded just before flights, was set off and fifteen minutes later the ship was in the air  The bomb will notify the people each day when to look for the ship.  When you hear the bomb the flight follows within 15 minutes and the entire town will be circled each day.    The airship is made of a specially wove Japanese silk, covered with eight coats of linseed varnish, four outside and four inside, which renders it perfectly impervious to gas or water,  the dimensions of the vessel are 54 feet long and fifteen feet in diameter. it is inflated with hydrogen gas, the lightest substance known, which is made right on the ground.  It takes about 7,500 cubic feet to inflate the vessel, which has a lifting capacity of 465 pounds.

Before each ascension the airship is balanced perfectly with the aid of sand ballast.  Contrary to the opinion of many people the gas in the envelope of the airship does not lift it up, the ballast being so used as to keep it just barely suspended above the earth. The propellers pull the vessel up or down as the operator wishes.  Of itself the vessel would not rise at all. When everything is ready for an ascension Prof. Owens starts his motor and moves to the rear of the frame work suspended to the ship.  This causes the rear of the ship to move and the propellers then pull the vessel up into the air.  Likewise, when the operator is ready to descend he moves to the front, depressing that end, and the vessel is pulled down by the propellers.

The airship is propelled by a seven-horse power air cooled gasoline engine, and the buzzing of the engine can be heard a considerable distance.

Prof. Owens went up four or five hundred feet this morning, and the graceful vessel presented a pretty picture, as it sailed over the city.  The few doubters were silenced very effectually, and the people witnessed one of the most interesting feats of these modern and strenuous times.

Two flights will be made each day during the balance of the week, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Listen for the bomb, which will tell you when to look for the ship.

Gilbert Parrish and the Dipper Gourd

For white pioneers, slaves and freedmen of Wiregrass Georgia, the utility of gourds was an essential part of daily living.   “In a thousand different ways the gourd is of the greatest use to all Southern families,” the Friends’ Intelligencer 1902 volume observed:

“… there is seldom found a farm-house where many gourd utensils are not in evidence, and the tourist will not be long in finding that in some of the poorer homesteads, and, in fact, in a great many of the well-to-do farm houses, they are the only known receptacles for water, milk, food, soap, and the various articles found in country kitchens. Every Southern housewife has a small sized gourd for holding salt, one for flour, one for pepper and other condiments, and a large one for lard, butter, corn, beans, and other vegetables…The housewife prides herself on her milking-gourds, which are kept white and clean by constant scourings and scaldings.” Large gourds are used as hens’ nests, water is carried to the farm hands in the fields in a large gourd bucket, the tinsmith and the shoemaker keep their tools in a gourd chest; they are also used as hanging baskets…” “Stopping at a farm-house in any of our Southern States of North America and asking for water, the tourist will be directed to help himself at the well, where a gourd dipper hangs in readiness.

Georgia Telfair, born into slavery on a Georgia plantation about 1864, talked about gourds in African-American folk life in the period after the war. In one passage recorded in WPA Slave Narratives,  Georgia Telfair mentions,

Everybody tried to raise plenty of gourds, ’cause they was so handy to use for dippers then. Water was toted from the spring and kept in piggins. Don’t expect you ever did see a piggin. That’s a wooden bucket with wire hoops round it to keep it from leaking.

The piggin was a small barrel or bucket, which could be used as a water cooler. One stave was left extra long and carved into a handle so the bucket could be held like an oversized scoop and easily filled. A lid kept the water or other contents clean. The dipper gourd made a convenient serving vessel.


Gilbert Parrish (1856-1903)

Gilbert Parrish, son of William Parrish and Rebecca Jane Devane, was a farmer of the 1156 District of Berrien County. As a farmer, Gilbert Parrish  appreciated the aesthetics of  country life.  The simplicity of a cool drink of water from a gourd dipper was, for his tastes, unbeatable.

Gilbert Parrish

Gilbert Parrish

The 1883 American Agriculturalist noted the utility of the dipper gourd:

 One of the most useful forms is the Dipper-gourd, in which the smaller end, or handle, is sometimes curved, but quite as often it is straight. The shell of this gourd, when a large opening is made in one side, and the contents removed, forms a dipper, very useful on washing days and at soap-making times. When thoroughly cleansed and soaked, to remove all taste, it is used at the water- pail. 

Dipper gourd

Dipper gourd

While in Nashville, GA on a dog day afternoon, Gilbert Parrish waxed eloquently on the refreshing qualities of water from a dipper gourd.

Atlanta Constitution Wednesday, Aug 6, 1884. Pg. 2. GEORGIA GOSSIP.  From the Berrien, Ga. News   It was Sunday afternoon, and they were sitting under the awning in front of Bill K. Robert’s store. As we walked up Gilbert Parrish was delivering himself as follows: “Boys, you may talk about your fancy fixing, your silver and gold and your tin dippers, your oak buckets, and your drinking from the spring, but for solid comfort and keen enjoyment give me the old-fashioned country raised gourd – the kitchen gourd. It must hold about a quart, have a long crooked handle and be split about half way down the side and sewed up with white thread crossed just so (here he crossed his fingers like the letter x). If a man will drink some of our Berrien county water from such a gourd as that and say that it ain’t the very quintessence of pleasure, why I don’t want to know him, that’s all.”

Note: Storekeeper William K. Roberts was a son of Bryan J. Roberts, pioneer and Indian fighter of old Lowndes county.

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