Albert Douglass: Soldier Grey and Sailor Blue

Special thanks to Wm Lloyd Harris for sharing research and contributing portions of this post.

Albert Benjamin Douglass

In 1862, Albert Benjamin Douglass appeared as one of the deserters from the Berrien Minute Men, 29th Georgia Infantry. He actually had a quite colorful record of service, prompting reader Wm Lloyd Harris to write with additional details relating  “the rest of the story.”   Harris is a great great grandson of Albert B. Douglass.

Military service was something of a tradition in the Douglass family.  Albert’s father and four brothers served in the Indians Wars in Florida. Albert and all four of his brothers served in the Civil War.  Before the Civil War was over Albert B. Douglass enlisted with at least four different units, was discharged once, and deserted three times. He fought for both the North and the South, and served in the Army and the Navy.

At the start of the Civil War, Albert Benjamin Douglass joined a company of Berrien county men going forth to be mustered into the 29th GA Regiment at Savannah, GA. In fact, according to Harris, his grandfather may have enlisted even earlier in another militia unit.

“A. B. Douglass appears as a 2nd Lieutenant in Company H, 25th Battalion Provincial Guard Georgia Infantry Regiment a local militia unit. The fact that the unit is termed ‘provincial’ typified early temporary military formations awaiting formal recognition or organization.”

Albert Benjamin Douglass was born in 1833, probably in Hamilton County, FL. His father, Seaborn Douglass, was born in Montgomery County, GA about 1800 and came to  Hamilton County, FL in the late 1820s. Seaborn Douglass and his family appear in the 1830 census of  Hamilton County.  The Douglass place in Hamilton County, FL was apparently located about eight miles from the home of Captain Archibald McRae.

Abert Douglass’  four brothers, Allen D. Douglass, Burrell Douglass, William Douglass, and Robert Douglass, and his father, Seaborn Douglass,  all served in  the  Indian Wars 1835-1858.

By 1838, Seaborn Douglass had moved his family to Lowndes County, GA. County tax records show Seaborn Douglass was late to pay his poll tax that year, although no taxes were assessed for any land holdings or slaves in Lowndes County. Seaborn Douglass appeared in the 1840 Lowndes County census with his children;   an unknown daughter (b. 1821), Allen Dickerson Douglass (1822 – 1919), Burrell Douglass (1825 – September 8, 1884), William Riley Douglass (1830 – ca. 1895), Robert Douglas (1833-1862), Albert Douglas (1835 – ), Rose or Rosean  Douglass (1839 – 1905), and an unknown daughter (b. 1840), although no spouse is found in his household.  Seaborn Douglass is believed to have died about 1843 in Lowndes County, Georgia.

About 1851, Albert Douglass, then a young man of 19,  married Abigail Shaw. She was a daughter of Martin Shaw, Sr., who was a pioneer settler of Lowndes County.  Martin Shaw had been one of a handful of  residents  at old Franklinville, GA, first seat of government of Lowndes County, and had  served as Lowndes’ first Sheriff.

Albert and Abigail Douglass appear in the 1860 census of  Berrien County, Georgia.  Albert was enumerated as 28 years old, Abigail as 35.  Their daughter Francenia  Douglass listed  as age 6.  Also in the Douglass household was the seven-year-old boy William W Turner.  The Douglas place was near that of Abigail’s  father, Martin Shaw. Nearby were the farms of  Jonathan A. Knight, Thomas Giddens and of William R. Brodgon, where William H. Outlaw was residing.

CIVIL WAR SERVICE OF THE DOUGLASS BROTHERS

All five sons of Seaborn Douglass served in the Confederate States Army.

  • Allen D. Douglass
    Served in the 1st Battalion, Florida Special Cavalry, Company B.  This unit was part of Lieutenant Colonel Charles James Munnerlyn’s famous “Cow Cavalry,” which was detailed to protect the supply of Florida cattle to feed the Confederate Army.
  • William R. Douglass
    Served with the 1st Battalion Florida Special Cavalry, also known as the “Cow Cavalry,” alongside his brother, Allen Dickerson Douglas, during the Civil War.
  • Burrell Douglass
    Enlisted September 22, 1862 at Camp Fort, Waynesville, GA, with Company A , 24th Battalion, Georgia Cavalry, under the command of Captain T.S. Hopkins ( This unit  later merged with the 7th Georgia Cavalry, Company G). While the Battalion was stationed at Camp Lee, Bryan County, GA, Burrell and a number of other soldiers became dissatisfied with the leadership of Colonel Edward C. Anderson.  Burrell Douglass  deserted on May 21, 1863  and returned to his home and family in Wayne County, GA.  Descendants believe he deserted and returned home because his wife was about to give birth, and his company had received orders to go to Virginia. About a year later in March or April, 1864 he enlisted with another company,  Captain Mann’s “Satilla Rifles.”    As soon as his name hit the war department he was arrested  for his earlier desertion and placed in Olglethorpe Barracks in Savannah. On April 11, 1864 he was court-martialed and found guilty.  He was sentenced to be shot “by musketry.” However, the execution was suspended on May 30, 1864, by order of Major General Samuel Cooper.  Douglass remained in custody until Jefferson Davis issued a pardon for Confederate deserters who resumed service.  Burrell’s records noted on November 19, 1864, “pardon and released to duty.” That was about the time Sherman was arriving in Savannah.  Burrell fought as an irregular in the Confederate Army (wherein an undisclosed injury was received) until the end of the war.  Buried at Mount Plesant Cemetery, Ware County, GA.
  • Robert Douglass
    Enlisted in the 7th Florida Infantry, Company B, on March 19, 1862. Died of “disease” in Knoxville, Tennessee, August 15, 1862. His wife, Elizabeth, received a widow’s pension as attested by Florida Confederate Pension Records. Buried in the Bethel Confederate Cemetery, Knoxville, Tennessee.

Albert B. Douglass in the Civil War

Records indicate Albert Douglass was enlisted in Berrien Minute Men, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment.   This was the second company of Berrien Minute Men to come forth from Berrien County, GA. This second company, organized in the fall of 1861, was successively known as Company B Berrien Minute Men,  Captain Lamb’s Company,  Company D 29th GA Regiment, and Company K 29th GA Regiment.  The company mustered into the 29th Georgia Regiment at Savannah, GA.   Months passed as  the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  The Berrien Minute Men were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

Albert Douglass must have been among those men who chaffed at the defensive nature of these assignments. The only Regimental return on file for Albert Douglass, Company K, 29th Georgia Regiment, shows that by December, 1862,  he was “absent without leave.”  In the following months. the 29th Georgia Regiment advertised a reward for his capture as a Confederate deserter.  Wanted notices were run in the Savannah, Georgia newspapers offering $30 dollars for his apprehension and giving his physical description as “32 years of age, 6 feet high, fair complexion, grey eyes, auburn hair.”   Among his fellow deserters were Elbert J. Chapman, who would be executed for desertion, and Benjamin S. Garrett, who was shot for being a Union spy.

  

Albert Douglas' regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

Albert Douglas’ regimental return for December 1862 shows him absent without leave;

It appears that Albert Douglass must have left the Berrien Minute Men by the summer of 1862.  The research of Wm Lloyd Harris reveals that Albert Douglas(s) had actually deserted the 29th Georgia and enlisted in the 26th Georgia Infantry subsequently fighting with Army of Northern Virginia in Virginia. As early as June 1862 he appeared with the 26th in Richmond, Virginia.    The 26th Regiment, Georgia Infantry  [also called 13th Regiment] completed its organization in October, 1861, at Brunswick, GA. Its companies were recruited in the counties of Charlton, Berrien, Glynn, Twiggs, Clinch, Ware, Coffee, and Wayne. After serving in the Department of Georgia at St. Simons Island and Savannah, the unit moved to Virginia where it was brigaded under Generals A. R. Lawton, John B. Gordon, and C.A. Evans.

The 26th Georgia Regiment  and the rest of Lawton’s Brigade  experienced their first engagement at the Battle of Gaines’ Mill, sometimes known as the First Battle of Cold Harbor or the Battle of Chickahominy River. This battle took place on June 27, 1862, in Hanover County, Virginia, as the third of the Seven Days Battles.  John Jefferson Beagles was also at this battle, serving with the 61st Georgia Regiment in Lawton’s Brigade.

Albert Douglass  was admitted to Chimborazo Hospital, Richmond, Virginia, for dysentery, June 29, 1862.   Returned to duty, July 10, 1862.On August 14, 1862, he was admitted to Lovingston Hospital, Winchester, VA with a complaint of fever and convulsions.

Douglass returned to duty on August 27.  The following day, in the late afternoon and evening of August 28, 1862 the 26th Georgia Regiment suffered  horrific casualties at the Battle of Brawner’s Farm,  at Groveton, VA.    That same afternoon, The Berrien Light Infantry, Company I, 50th Georgia Regiment  was engaged just about ten miles west of Groveton driving federal forces out of  Thoroughfare Gap through the Bull Run mountains, and taking up and occupying position.  These actions were a prelude to the Second Battle of Manassas (Bull Run) August 29-20. During the battle, 0n August 29,  both  the 26th GA and the 50th GA regiments were in positions at Groveton. Among the men from the Ray City area serving with the 50th GA Regiment were Green Bullard, Fisher J. Gaskins, Lemuel Elam Gaskins, Joseph Gaskins,  John Jasper Cook and John Martin Griner.

Douglass’ regiment lost 37 killed and 87 wounded at Second Manassas.

On September 17, 1862 the 26th Regiment fought in the Battle of Sharpsburg (Antietam), again suffering heavy casualties. The regiment reported 6 killed, 49 wounded, and 6 missing at Sharpsburg.

Douglass was admitted to 1st Division, General Hospital Camp Winder on October 19, 1862 and transferred to Hod Hospital on December 23. He was back on the morning report of Winder Hospital on December 24, and then transferred to Ridge Hospital.  He was admitted to Receiving and Wayside Hospital (General Hospital No. 9)  on June 4, 1863 and the following day he was discharged from the Confederate States Army.

At least one man of the 26th GA regiment, perhaps it was Douglass, called himself  a friend of Old “Yaller” Elbert J. Chapman. Chapman, like Douglass, left the Berrien Minute Men to go fight with other units, but Chapman was executed for his desertion.

After being discharged, Albert Douglass returned home. On July 18, 1863 he joined Captain Stewart’s Independent Company at Lake City, Florida; he was mustered into Company E, 9th Regiment, Florida Infantry. He was transferred to Company H, 9th Regiment on October 1, 1863. Albert Doulass appeared in a series of units. In August,  1863 he served as Provost Guard.  In October, 1863 he was detached to serve guard duty, Signal Corps. In November, he was detached from Captain Stewart’s Company and transferred to the Signal Corps. He was present for duty from December 1863 to April 1864.  On April 30, 1864 he was detached to the Pioneer Corps.  Two months later, he deserted to surrender to Union Army forces.

After his surrender, Albert Douglass was transferred to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he pledged the Oath of Allegiance to the United States on November 26, 1864.  On December 5, 1864 at the age of 32, he enlisted for a two-year term in the Union Navy, as an Ordinary Seaman.  At the time of enlistment he was residing in Washington, Davies County, Indiana.  His place of birth was given as Atlanta, GA; his occupation listed as “farmer.”  His Physical description was recorded as brown eyes, sandy blonde hair, florid complexion,  5’11” tall with a scar on his left arm.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record

Douglass was initially assigned to “R. S. Cairo.” This ship is sometimes thought to be the ironclad gunboat USS Cairo, but the USS Cairo was sunk in 1862 during a U.S. Navy excursion in support of the campaign for Vicksburg, MS.  Actually, R.S. Cairo refers to the Navy Receiving Ship at Cairo, IL, where new recruits were mustered into the navy. This ship was the sidewheel steamer USS Great Western.  There are no known images of the Great Western.

After completing receiving, Albert Douglass was assigned as an Ordinary Seaman to the tin-clad USS Gazelle, January 14, 1865.  The Gazelle, also a sidewheel steamer, patrolled between the mouth of the Red River and Morganza, Louisiana, and convoyed transports. She was armed with six 12-pound rifled cannons.  There are no known images of the USS Gazelle.

Apparently, Albert Douglass was on active duty aboard the USS Gazelle a scant two days before once again falling to illness.  Aboard the Gazelle, Albert Douglass received the usual treatment for chronic diarrhea – a cocktail of Opium,  Lead Acetate,  and Tannic Acid –  to no effect.  This was followed by a three-day course of  Opium, Silver Nitrate, and Powdered Acacia – also to no effect.  Douglass was finally given an enema of five grains of Silver Nitrate in three ounces of  aqua (distilled water) “without any apparent beneficial results.”

Douglass was  sent to Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN.  Federal forces had occupied Memphis since 1862 and the city had become a major medical center.  “Wounded prisoners came by boat and wagon to be treated at hospitals that began to specialize as the war progressed.   Prior to the war the city had one hospital. By the end of the war, there were 15.  The Union used the hotels and warehouses of Memphis as a “hospital town” with over 5,000 wounded Union troops being brought for recovery.

According to the Records of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Douglass was transferred on February 7, 1865 with chronic diarrhea.   His sea bag contained his hammock, blanket, mattress, jacket, trousers, drawers, two flannel shirts, stockings, boots, handkerchief, and cap.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-2-7-1865-hospital-ticket

Transcription of Hospital Ticket
7 Feb 1865
USS Gazelle
To W. Grier
Surgeon
You are hereby requested to receive Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman affected with chronic diarhea in the hospital under your direction and to provide for him accordingly according to the rules and regulations of the US Navy.
Receipt: 1 hammock, 1 blanket, 1 mattress, 1 jacket, 1 trousers, 1 drawers, 2 shirts flannel, 1 stockings, 1 boots, 1 handkerchief, 1 cap.
Respectfully, A.T.Crippen
Surgeon’s Steward in charge
Approved
Archy S. Palmer
Acting Ensign, Commanding

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Albert Douglas hospital papers. Memphis Hospital, Memphis, TN

Transcription of Hospital Record describing his shipboard treatment prior to his admission to Memphis Hospital.
30 March 1865

Albert Douglass, Ordinary Seaman was born in the state of Georgia. Was admitted to sick list on the 21st of Jan 1865. Says he was affected with diarrhea two weeks before he reported to me. I do not know how he contracted the Disease as he was affected with it when he came aboard this Ship  Jan 19th. Ha been treated with plumbi acetas gr ii; Tannin gr iii; Opii Pulv gr SS; three times per day for three days.
Pulvi acaci gr iii; Opii gr i: Argenti nitros gr 1/12; every 24 hours for three days.
Enema argenti Nitras gr v to Agua 3i ounce without any apparent beneficial result.

A. T. Crippen
Surg’s Stew in charge
Have treated with stimulants ever since.

Federal military records show Albert Douglass deserted the Union Navy while in the hospital, on March 30, 1865.

albert-douglas-union-navy-record-3-30-1865-deserted

It appears that Albert never returned home to Abigail, and his whereabouts following his desertion from the US Navy in 1865 remain unknown. Abigail was last documented in the 1900 Lowndes County, Georgia, census in the household of John H. Godwin. second husband of her daughter Francine.  Francine’s first husband was Henry Clay Surrency. Abigail Shaw Douglass is believed to have died circa 1905. It appears that Abigail believed that Albert perished during the war as she identified herself as a widow for the remainder of her life.

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US Navy record also reflects that Albert was listed with an alternate name of Arthur Doyle, no doubt to deflect future trouble in the event he was captured by southern forces. (note that his initials AD remain a tie to his actual name).

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GEORGIA DOUGLASES WEBSITE

New Lois School Reunion, 1997

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New Lois consolidated school, 4th, 5th, 6th Grades, 1933-34 the first year the school was opened. Identified front row left to right: Lucian Parrish, William Forehand, Elby Ray, –––––––– Buckholt, Lamar Weaver, Ronald Parrish, Alton Akins, Pete Akins, Bernys W. Peters. Second row: Amos Luke, C.H. Ray, Lucille Knowles, Camilla Comer, Enda Fountain, Rudelle Lee, Alma Luke, Clementine Mickell. Back row: Hazel Sirmans, ––––––– Fountain, Myrtice Jordan, Helen Griffin, Verna Jordan, Lawanna Griffin.  Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

New Lois consolidated school, 4th, 5th, 6th Grades, 1933-34 the first year the school was opened. Identified front row left to right: Lucian Parrish, William Forehand, Elby Ray, –––––––– Buckholt, Lamar Weaver, Ronald Parrish, Alton Akins, Pete Akins, Bernys W. Peters. Second row: Amos Luke, C.H. Ray, Lucille Knowles, Camilla Comer, Enda Fountain, Rudelle Lee, Alma Luke, Clementine Mickell. Back row: Hazel Sirmans, ––––––– Fountain, Myrtice Jordan, Helen Griffin, Verna Jordan, Lawanna Griffin. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

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New Lois School Reunion, 1997

New Lois School Reunion, 1997

29th Georgia Regiment Soldier Killed by Fellow Soldier

29th Georgia Regiment Soldier Killed by Fellow Soldier over a game of marbles

In the summer of 1862,  the Berrien Minute Men mustered in as a company of the 29th Georgia Infantry Regiment near Savannah, GA, where the regiment trained and served picket duty on the Georgia coast.  They were stationed at a number of camps  on the coastal islands and marshes, first at Sapelo Battery, off the coast of Darien, GA, then defending Savannah in Chatham County, GA at Camp Tatnall, Camp Causton’s Bluff, Camp Debtford, Camp Mackey, and Camp Young.

At times the conditions in the Confederate camps of Chatham county were rough.  Disease, shortage of provisions,  weather, and frustration over being assigned to the literal backwaters of the war all took their toll on the men.   Difficulties sometimes arose between soldiers.  In one incident a soldier of the 29th Georgia Regiment was killed over a game of marbles. The fatal knifing occurred on September 16, 1862.

In a letter written September 20, 1862 and published September 26, 1862 in the Rome Weekly Courier a soldier of Company E, 29th Georgia Regiment reported the incident:

A serious difficulty occurred in the company on Tuesday last, between Privates Sam’l Fuller and John M. Reynolds.  They had been playing marbles, and a dispute arose, which resulted in an encounter, when Fuller drew his pocket knife and inflicted three wounds on the person of Reynolds, two in the back and in in the side. The two in the back were not considered serious, but the one in the side was, as it came very near going the hollow. Mr. Reynolds had been here but a few days having came in the the last squad of recruits. He is in the camp hospital and doing well. – Fuller did not wait to be placed under arrest, but went immediately to the guard Tents and gave himself up – He will be tried to day before the Regimental Court Martial

Letter from a Floyd County soldier reports deadly game of marbles at the camp of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA

Letter dated September 20, 1862from a Floyd County soldier reports deadly game of marbles at the camp of the 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA

The knife wounds sent John Reynolds to the camp hospital, which would have placed him under the care of William P. Clower, Surgeon of the 29th Regiment. William P. Clower initially served as company surgeon for the Berrien Minute Men, and was a brother of Dr. John T. Clower of Rays Mill, (now Ray City, GA)

Exerpt from a soldier’s letter written September 26, 1862 at the regimental headquarters, 29th Georgia Regiment, Savannah, GA and published in the Rome Tri-Weekly Courier :

John M. Reynolds is suffering intensely from the wounds inflicted by Fuller, and I fear it will be some time before he recovers, if ever.  He is still in the camp hospital, not in a condition to be moved.  Fuller’s case has been tried but the decision has not been made public, but doubtless will be in a few days. He is under arrest yet.

1862-rome-tri-wkly-john-m-reynolds

John M. Reynold did not recover. The Savannah Republican issue of October 1, 1862 reported his death:

Savannah Republican
October 1, 1862

INQUEST. – Coroner Eden held an inquest yesterday at the camp of the Twenty-ninth Georgia Regiment, over the body of Private John M. Reynolds, of Co. D., said regiment. The jury found that the deceased came to his death from wounds inflicted on his person by one Samuel Fuller, of the same regiment, in a quarrel which took place on the 16th ult., while playing at marbles. Upon the facts given in evidence, they found a charge of manslaughter against Fuller.

1862-oct-1-savannah-republican-john-m-reynoldsWriting from Camp Troup on October 1, 1862, a Floyd county soldier reported to the Rome Weekly Courier:

It becomes my painful duty to record the death of private John M. Reynolds,  who died on the morning of  the 30th ult., of Erysipelas, produced by the wounds inflicted by private Samuel Fuller. The particulars of the difficulty I gave you in a former letter. Mr. Fuller was court martialed and sentenced to fifteen days hard labor, and when not at work, with a ball and chain to his leg and confined to the guard tent, but as the Judge Advocate omitted to record the evidence and the names of the witnesses, the Colonel disapproved of the sentence and remanded him back to his company for duty.  This was on the 27th September, Reynolds died on the 30th. Fuller was then arrested again and placed under guard to be delivered over to the civil authorities, when demanded. A Coroner’s Inquest was ordered and held over the body of the deceased, and the jury found that he came to his death from wounds inflicted by Samuel Fuller, and upon the facts given in evidence they found a charge of manslaughter against Fuller.  He had not been sent for by the civil authorities when we left today.

Erysipelas was a streptococcus infection of the skin and was difficult to treat without antibiotics.

letter dated Oct 1, 1862

letter dated Oct 1, 1862

In a follow-up letter on October 2, 1862, the soldier reported

 Samuel Fuller was arrested and turned over to the civil authorities and placed in jail yesterday evening to await his trial. He made a good soldier, one who was always in his place, and did his full share of duty. If the Captain is here when he is tried, he will see that justice is done him.

letter dated October 2, 1862

letter dated October 2, 1862

Letter of October 5, 1862 from Camp Troup near Savannah, GA

Last Friday was appointed for Fuller’s committal trial, but as some of the witnesses were sick, the trial was postponed until Monday, and for the same reasons it was again postponed until last Tuesday two weeks, wo he will have to lie in jail at least that long.

1862-10-16-rome-tri-weekly-samuel-fuller-trial

October 29, 1862 letter from Camp Troup, near Savannah, GA reports:

Fuller’s committal trial has been indefinitely postponed on account of so many of the witnesses being sick.

Letter dated October 29,1862 reports delay in the trial of Samuel Fuller for the death of John M. Reynolds

Letter dated October 29,1862 reports delay in the trial of Samuel Fuller for the death of John M. Reynolds

Finally, in a letter written February 12, 1863, while the 29th GA Regiment was at Camp Young near Savannah, GA, the results of the trial are announced:

Samuel Fuller has had his trial at last; he was cleared and returned to duty.1863-feb-20-rome-wkly-courier-samuel-fuller-killed-29th-regt-ga-soldier

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Melvin Plair

Melvin Plair of Lois community near Ray City, a son of Effie Mozelle Moore and Eugene Plair. In the 1940s, the Plairs rented a farm on the Nashville and Valdosta Highway.

Melvin Plair, Senior at Berrien High School, 1955. In high school he played basketball and baseball, and was a senior superlative by his classmates.  He was on the Student Council and the Annual Staff, and a member of the “N” Club.

Melvin Plair, 1955, Senior

Melvin Plair, 1955, Senior

Melvin Plair played on the 1952-53 Nashville High Sschool boys basketball team. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Melvin Plair played on the 1952-53 Nashville High Sschool boys basketball team. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Melvin Plair, 1953 at Nashville High School

Melvin Plair, 1953 at Nashville High School

In 1955, Melvin Plair played baseball for the Alapaha.

The Nashville Herald, front page, June 23, 1955 Photo caption: ALAPAHA LIONS BASEBALL SQUAD – Berrien County’s representative in the Twin-Rivers Baseball League this year is the young and talented Alapaha Lions Club team pictured above. Players, front row, L-R, James Moore, Edwin Register, Charles Matthews, Billy Sanderson, Weyman Vickers; middle row L-R, Melvin Plair, Joe Dixon, Russell Nix, Garland McMillan, Joe Peach; back row L-R, Manager Buford Powell, Tommie Vickers, J.C. Rowe, Rufus Powell, Harvey Dorsey, Coach Julian Paulk. Squad members not present for picture include Don Haskins, Hubert Moore and Pete Williams. – Photo by Wink Rogers.

The Nashville Herald, front page, June 23, 1955 Photo caption: ALAPAHA LIONS BASEBALL SQUAD – Berrien County’s representative in the Twin-Rivers Baseball League this year is the young and talented Alapaha Lions Club team pictured above. Players, front row, L-R, James Moore, Edwin Register, Charles Matthews, Billy Sanderson, Weyman Vickers; middle row L-R, Melvin Plair, Joe Dixon, Russell Nix, Garland McMillan, Joe Peach; back row L-R, Manager Buford Powell, Tommie Vickers, J.C. Rowe, Rufus Powell, Harvey Dorsey, Coach Julian Paulk. Squad members not present for picture include Don Haskins, Hubert Moore and Pete Williams. – Photo by Wink Rogers. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Senior Superlatives, BHS Class of 1955, Francis Gray and Melvin Plair

Senior Superlatives, BHS Class of 1955, Frances Gray and Melvin Plair

Melvin Plair and Frances Gray were later married.

James W. Talley, Milltown Doctor

The Talley family has a long history in Berrien County, GA. Reverend Nathan Talley came, from Greene County, GA to Berrien County  with his wife, Martha Travis some time in the 1850s.  The Methodist minister resided in the vicinity of Ray’s Mill.  He was a neighbor of  Keziah Knight, daughter of William Anderson Knight, and her husband Allen Jones.  Also residing with the Talleys was Dr. John W. Turner.  In 1861, Reverend Talley was serving as minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA. He gave the invocation and led hymns for the Grand Military Rally for the Berrien Minute Men at Milltown, GA on May 17, 1861.

Two of Reverend Talley’s own sons were physicians.

Dr. Hamilton M. Talley practiced medicine in Nashville and Valdosta, and also called on residents of  Ray’s Mill (now Ray City), GA.  In the Civil War, Dr. H.M. Talley served as Captain of Company E, 54th Georgia Regiment, one of the infantry units raised in Berrien County.

Dr. James W. Talley, had a medical practice in Milltown (now Lakeland), GA.

Dr. James W. Talley, of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA

Dr. James W. Talley, of Milltown (now Lakeland), GA

The following biographical sketch of James W. Talley was written just before his death:

James W. Talley, M.D., was born February 22, 1826 in Henry county, GA, not far from Atlanta, and is of English ancestry.  His grandfather, with two brothers, came to this country, and the former, Caleb Talley, after serving during the revolutionary war, settled in Virginia. He was the father of seven sons, five of whom were Methodist ministers. One of these, Rev. Nathan Talley, of Green County, GA, was the father of James W. Talley. The later received a good academic education, and in 1850 began the study of medicine under Dr. William Blalock, of Fayetteville, GA.  In 1851, he entered the Medical College of Georgia, at Augusta, but took his degree from Savannah Medical College. 

Savannah Medical College, 1867.

Savannah Medical College, 1867.

He located in Milltown, Berrien, Co., where he has built up one of the most successful and extensive country practices in the state. During the war, Dr. Talley was exempted from military duty on account of his profession. Politically he is a democrat.  He is a member of the Masonic fraternity, of lodge No. 211, has been grand master, and is now past master.  One of Dr. Talley’s brothers, H. M. Talley, is also a physician at Valdosta.  Another, A.S. [Algernon] Talley, is a real estate agent in Atlanta.  For his first wife, Dr. Talley married Miss Mary Little, daughter of Zabot Little, of Henry county.  She died in 1867, and he afterward married Miss M. [Araminta Mississippi] Holzendorf, daughter of Alexander Holzendorf, of Cumberland Island, one of the best known planters in the state. [Her brother, Robert Stafford Holzendorf married Satira Lovejoy Lamb, widow of Major John C. Lamb who commanded the 29th Georgia Regiment during the War.]

Dr. Talley’s family consists of two sons and four daughters. His eldest son, Junius V., born May 8, 1872, graduated from the Louisville Medical college in June 1894; William T., born August 30, 1875, at home, attending school. The eldest daughter, born in 1854, is the wife of Huffman Harroll, a merchant of Valdosta; Mary I., born in 1864, married J.H. Bostwick [Bostic], a manufacturer of naval stores in Berrien county [and a trustee of Oaklawn Academy]; Effie C., born November 5, 1870; Lelia H., born September 6, 1873, is the wife of J.J. Knight, a merchant of Milltown.

“According to Old Times There Are Not Forgotten, he [Dr. James W. Talley] built the bungalow still standing on the northeast corner of Main and Oak Streets and raised a family…”  – Nell Roquemore

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Dr. J. W. Talley’s son, Dr. Junius V. “June” Talley, after graduating from Louisville Medical College returned to Milltown (now Lakeland), GA where he also took up practice.

In October 1894, Dr. J.W. Talley was elected to the executive committee of the short lived Berrien County Prohibition Association.

Dr. James W. Talley died November 25, 1895. An obituary was published in the Tifton Gazette.

Obituary of Dr. James W. Talley, Tifton Gazette, November 29, 1895

Obituary of Dr. James W. Talley, Tifton Gazette, November 29, 1895

Tifton Gazette
November 29, 1895

Dr. J. W. Talley Dead

Death has again visited our community, and claimed as its victim Dr. J. W. Talley.  Dr. Talley came to this country in the year 1856, and has been a practicing physician here ever since. He was an exemplary citizen and a Christian gentleman, having joined the Methodist church in early boyhood, and leaves a large circle of relatives, friends and acquaintances, who were present today at his burial. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. E. L. Padrick and Rev. Wm. Talley, who read a short history of the deceased’s life. The bereaved wife and children have the deepest sympathy of the entire community.   BUTTERFLY.

Grave of James W. Talley, died November 25, 1895. Old City Cemetery, Lakeland, GA. Image source: Ed Hightower

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Mamie Langford and John Sheffield Shaw

Mary Washington “Mamie” Langford, daughter of Mary Virginia Knight and William E. Langford, was born August 5, 1883. She married John Shaw  on November 18, 1917. The wedding ceremony was performed by primitive baptist pastor Aaron Anderson Knight.

Marriage certificate of Mary Washington "Mamie" Langford and John Sheffield Shaw.

Marriage certificate of Mary Washington “Mamie” Langford and John Sheffield Shaw.

John Sheffield Shaw was born October 6, 1885 in the Lois community just west of Ray City, GA, a son of William S. Shaw and Mary Parrish Shaw.  After his mother died in 1906 and father died in 1907 he lived with his divorced sister, Alice Shaw, helping her run her rented farm on the Hahira, Cecil and Milltown Road

John S. Shaw was in the Army during World War I. He enlisted at Ft Slocum NY on August 1, 1914.  Other Berrien county men who entered the service via Fort Slocum included Rossie O. Knight who enlisted at Fort Slocum, NY on August 31, 1913, and Carter H. Exum and Charlie Turner, both of Nashville, GA who enlisted June 22, 1914.

John S. Shaw was detailed to the Bakers and Cooks school at Ft Sam Houston, TX.

Wanted! 500 bakers for the U.S. Army, (also 100 cooks). If you can bake bread, Uncle Sam wants you - if you can't bake bread Uncle Sam will teach you how in a government school. [...] Recruiting office: Cor. 39th St. and 6th Ave. (south east corner). - WWI recruiting poster, 1917. Library of Congress

Wanted! 500 bakers for the U.S. Army, (also 100 cooks). If you can bake bread, Uncle Sam wants you – if you can’t bake bread Uncle Sam will teach you how in a government school. […] Recruiting office: Cor. 39th St. and 6th Ave. (south east corner). – WWI recruiting poster, 1917. Library of Congress

He attained the rank of Sergeant 1st Class on June 1, 1917, and Quartermaster Sergeant on August 3, 1917. On August 15, 1917 he was detailed to the School for Bakers and Cooks at Camp Jackson, SC.  where he became a senior instructor in cooking. He received an honorable discharge on October 19, 1918 to accept a commission.

He was appointed 2nd Lieutenant, Quartermasters Corps on October 20, 1918 and was stationed at Camp Sevier, Greenville, SC, apparently taking time off between assignments to come home to Ray City and get married.

John received an honorable discharge on January 7, 1919 and returned to Ray City, GA where he returned to farming. Mamie and John had a mortgaged farm on the Ray City – Milltown road. John worked the farm on his own account. Their neighbors included Paul Knight, and Mamie’s sister and brother-in-law, Thursday  and Albert Studstill. Mamie’s father resided with the Studstills.

Children of Mamie Langford and John Sheffield Shaw:

1. Johnnie Shaw, born December 15, 1918, died April 1, 1925
2. Infant, born and died September 1, 1925

Grave of Mary "Mamie" Langford Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of Mary “Mamie” Langford Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA

Grave of John Sheffield Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray

Grave of John Sheffield Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA. Image source: Michael Dover.

Grave of Johnnie L. Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City. GA

Grave of Johnnie L. Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City. GA

Grave of infant son of John S. Shaw and Mamie Langford Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City. GA

Grave of infant son of John S. Shaw and Mamie Langford Shaw, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City. GA

Sizemores’ First Teaching Job

Joe and Diane Sizemore
School-year 1952-53

Joe and Diane Sizemore, long time residents of Ray City, GA attended teachers college at Statesboro, GA and spent their first teaching in Irwin County.

Joe Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Joe Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

 ~

Diane Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Diane Sizemore, 1952, Georgia Teachers College, Statesboro, GA

Their first year out of Georgia Teachers College Joe and Diane went to Ocilla, GA where they taught school for the 1952-53 school year.  They moved into  a small, four unit apartment building located at 108 South Irwin Avenue, called the Teachers’ Building.  It was in downtown Ocilla where they could walk to shop. The hardware store was across the alley from their apartment.  They bought their first refrigerator there.

Joe and Diane Sizemore lived in this Ocilla, GA apartment building during their first year of teaching 1952-53.

Joe and Diane Sizemore lived in this Ocilla, GA apartment building during their first year of teaching 1952-53.

Joe got a job in the Ocilla city high  school; Diane was hired to teach  in one of the county schools.  The Ocilla position was highly recommended by Joe’s math professor at Statesboro, W. B. Moye, who knew the Irwin County School Superintendent.   Joe’s degree was in Exact Science. That first year he taught math and algebra and two study halls.

Joe Sizemore taught high school math at the Ocilla Public School, 1952-53

Joe Sizemore taught high school math at the Ocilla Public School, 1952-53. Image By Michael Rivera [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Diane taught 4th grade at the public school at Mystic, GA five miles west of Ocilla.  She rode to work every day with one of the other teachers. The Principal was Mr. Peavy; he had previously been pastor of the Baptist Church at Ray City, GA.

Mystic Public School, constructed 1928

Mystic Public School, constructed 1928. Diane Sizemore taught 4th grade at Mystic in 1952-53.

Even with two incomes, teaching didn’t pay enough for Joe & Diane to live on.  Joe took an extra job working on Saturdays at a grocery store so they could afford to eat. Still, they  saved enough of that money in the first semester to buy their first car at the end of the first semester.  One of the Ocilla teachers sold them a black Plymouth sedan, used but it looked like brand new.  When they went home to Nashville and Ray City for Christmas, both of their families were shocked to see them drive up in their own car.

But at Christmas, the Irwin County superintendent lost his bid for re-election and a new superintendent was elected. After that, their positions in Ocilla were uncertain and they decided to pursue other jobs.   When school closed for the summer, they moved to Quitman, GA and took teaching positions there.

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Frances Cornelius

Frances Cornelius, born 1938,  lived with her family on Possum Creek Road just west of Ray City, GA.  Her father, Shellie Wade Cornelius, was a bus driver for the Ray City School and her mother, Pearl Williams Cornelius was a teacher.

Frances Cornelius, 1952-53 sophomore at Ray City School

Frances Cornelius, 1952-53 sophomore at Ray City School


Frances "Frankie" Cornelius, Senior, Class of 1955, Berrien High School, Nashville, GA

Frances “Frankie” Cornelius, Senior, Class of 1955, Berrien High School, Nashville, GA

At Berrien High School, Frances Cornelius was a member of 4-H, Glee Club, Tri-Hi-Y, and Future Homemakers of America. She also play on the Girls basketball team and was a cheerleader.

Georgia Prohibition – No Bottle in the House; No Soda at the Fount

Did Berrien’s own Jonathan P. Knight almost nix Coca Cola in Georgia? Knight grew up at Ray City, GA before moving to the Berrien county seat at Nashville. He was elected to Georgia Assembly first as state representative and later as state senator, and was known for his fiery activism against drinking. He was chairman of the Temperance Committee in the Georgia Senate and was outspoken about the prevalence of drinking in the very halls of the Georgia Assembly.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

Jonathan Perry Knight, 1902.

J. P. Knight, of Berrien was among the foremost champions for statewide prohibition on the sale of liquor, which was passed in Georgia in July 1907.  Knight didn’t think the law went far enough and was among the first to point out that the law contained very large loopholes, namely, that liquor could continue to be served in social clubs where members kept their own stock in private lockers.  Knight’s bill introduced July 17, 1907 was aimed at closing this loophole.

1907-jul-17-jp-knight-pushed-prohibition

Knight to Present Bill to Banish Club Lockers

Those of the clubmen of Georgia who boast a convivial liking for the cocktail, the highball, or the mint julep, as the particular taste may dictate, and have been consoling themselves with the fond belief that, after all, prohibition would not mean such a hardship forthem, as at the worst they would be able to keep their well-stocked lockers, where they would always be easy of access, have a rude jar coming to them, if Senator Knight of the sixth district, chairman of the temperance committee of the upper house, has his way.
     The former representative from Berrien has in his desk a bill the purpose of which is to declare that any place in which liquors are kept for sale or use, whether by individuals or corporations, is a tippling house, and consequently in violation of the prohibition bill which he expects to see entered on the statute books of Georgia.
     If this bill is passed, it will not only be illegal for clubs to supply their members with drinks, but it will be impossible for them to provide lockers in which members may keep their own liquors and mixing materials.  It will then be possible for a man to get a drink only within the confines of his own home.

But some thought the state prohibition laws were too tight – Prohibition could have ended the sales of soft drinks in Georgia as well as alcoholic beverages.

Ocala Star, July 17, 1907 reports J.P. Knight's bill for prohibition

Ocala Star, July 17, 1907 reports J.P. Knight’s bill for prohibition

Ocala Florida
Thursday July 18, 1907

GEORGIA WILL BE A GEM

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Of Purest Ray Serene in Prohibition’s Diadem

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No Bottle in the House; No Soda at the Fount – The People will be proper to Climb Zion’s Happy Mount

Atlanta, July 16. – Senator J. P. Knight, of the seventh, from Berrien county, chairman of the state temperance committee, says he will introduce a bill tomorrow, not only to prevent the sale of liquor in private clubs but to make it a misdemeanor for any member of any club to keep a bottle in his private locker.  He thinks there is no question about its going through along with state prohibition.


Soft Drinks Will be Scarce

Atlanta, July 16. – It is claimed if the state prohibition bill passes practically all the soft drinks manufactured Georgia will have to go out of business. A small quantity of alcohol is required for the purpose of preserving the syrups, which are the basis of them, and with state prohibition in effect it will be impossible to secure it. – Savannah News.

Georgia’s prohibition law went into effect in 1908, although Knight’s proposal to tighten the prohibition  was not adopted.  For a while at least, alcohol remained available in Georgia’s social clubs, and while the presence of alcohol in sodas became widely known, the demand for soft drinks soared under Prohibition and ever after.

1907-aug-1-bainbridge-dem-prohibition-and-soda

“SOFT DRINKS.”

     Apropos of prohibition, word comes from Washington that the Internal Revenue Bureau has discovered that in many of the so-called soft drinks dispensed from soda fountains there is present alcohol in larger percent than in the same sized drink of beer.
     If the man with the soft thirst could take a deep draught from the onyx covered receptables in which certain extracts and essences are concealed in soda fountains, he would consume a drink probably from 40 to 60 percent alcohol. With the addition of fizz and the other things that are artfully welded to make a soft drink the precentage is cut down considerably.
    Local druggists, it is said, may expect to hear that the internal revenue officers have determined that mixers of these extracts and essences with carbonated water shall pay taxes for the privilege of competing with the regular bars. The internal revenue laws says that before a man may mix a drink containing alcohol he must take out a rectifier’s license.
    Now the soda water man takes essences, extracts and syrups containing alcohol, and adds water to taste to produce a beverage, and is rumored that the internal revenue commissioners will be instructed to issue rules so worded to compel druggists who desire to use the alcoholic essences to become rectifiers and also retail dealers in spirits.
     It is claimed that in some soft drinks served from soda fountains there appears 4 percent of alcohol, while beer is claimed to contain less than 3 percent.  Most of the soda fountains in Bainbridge, however, use almost entirely the fruit juices, which contain not more than a fraction of 1 percent of alcohol.
     Druggists state, however, that some extracts are still used and that in some of them the “spike” is two-thirds of the entire fluid. A small drink of the pure extract would serve much the same purpose as several mint juleps and gin rickeys mixed in the regular bars.

The Georgia legislature turned its attention to taxing the “bring your own bottle” clubs,  thus preserving the revenue of the state, the privilege of the wealthy, the future of Coca Cola, and the appearance of temperance for the lower classes.

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. –New Georgia Encyclopedia

Even after the passage of national Prohibition, the Demon Alcoholmoonshine liquor, the kind that simply makes a man forget himself and everything else – was widely available in south Georgia, and public drunkenness in Ray City led to “free fights and a good deal of threatening and a considerable amount of gun play.” It must have been a personal embarrassment to Jonathan Perry Knight that in his own home county of Berrien the consumption of alcohol remained so rampant.

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Ray City School, Eighth Grade 1960-61

Ray City School, Eighth Grade 1960-61

In 1954, Ray City High School and all other white high schools in the county were combined into Nashville High School.  The brick school building at Ray City continued to serve as an elementary and middle school until 1994, when all county schools were consolidated into facilities in Nashville.

Ray City Elementary School. Mrs. Taylor & Mrs. Patten's Eighth Grade, 1960-61.

Ray City Elementary School. Mrs. Taylor & Mrs. Patten’s Eighth Grade, 1960-61. Front Row, fourth from the left is Johnny Guthrie. Other Identifications needed.

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