These Boys Volunteered April 11, 1917

Ray City, GA Men Volunteer for WWI

On April 6, 1917, after Germany broke the Sussex Pledge not to torpedo U.S. merchant vessels and after the decoding of the Zimmerman Telegram which sought to recruit Mexico as a German ally, the United States declared war. Days later, on April 11, 1917  three Ray City men, Lorton Register, William Balley Register and William O. Frazier, went to Five Points, Atlanta, GA where they volunteered for service in the United States Army.

When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, the Army Recruiting Station for white men was above Liggett's Drug Store at Five Points, Atlanta, photographed here circa 1922.

When the U.S. declared war on Germany in 1917, the Army Recruiting Station for white men was above Liggett’s Drug Store at Five Points, Atlanta, photographed here circa 1922.

For white men, the Army Recruiting Station in Atlanta, GA was  above Liggett’s Drug Store at Five Points on Peachtree Avenue.  Black men reported to the “substation for negroes” at 40 Walton Street, about a mile west of Five Points near the campus of Morris Brown College.

An April 12, 1917 article in The Atlanta Constitution reported:

These Boys Volunteered Wednesday

There’s A Recruiting Station Near You.

Army: 504 P. O. Building, Substation over Liggett’s drug store, Five Points. Substation for negroes, 40 Walton Street.

Navy: 514 Postoffice Building.
Marine Corps: 29 1/2 Marietta Street.
Registration bureau of the National League for Woman’s Service 172 1/2 Peachtree Street (upstairs).

Again Wednesday the recruiting offices for all three branches of the service were about the busiest places to be found around Atlanta. While the army did not quite come up to Tuesday’s mark, it is expected that  Thursday, the first day that recruits will begin training at Fort McPherson, will break all records.  Navy and Marine corps each spent a very busy day with a good number shipped and more waiting examination. 

The article lists 163 volunteers, including the three Ray City men.

 

William O. Frazier was sent to Valdosta, GA for induction. Lorton Webster Register and his brother, Balley Register, were sent to  Fort Thomas, KY.

New recruits at Fort Thomas, KY, April 29, 1917

New recruits at Fort Thomas, KY, April 29, 1917

Army tents at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917. Lorton W, Register and William Balley Register, of Ray City, GA were inducted here in April, 1917

Army tents at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917. Lorton W, Register and William Balley Register, of Ray City, GA were inducted here in April, 1917

Army Barracks at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917

Army Barracks at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917

WWI soldiers at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917. Gilliam Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

WWI soldiers at Fort Thomas, KY circa 1917. Gilliam Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

WWI soldiers at Fort Thomas, KY mess hall circa 1917. Gilliam Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

WWI soldiers at Fort Thomas, KY mess hall circa 1917. Gilliam Collection, Eva G. Farris Special Collections, W. Frank Steely Library, Northern Kentucky University.

Lorton W. Register would be killed in action on March 1, 1918 at St. Mihiel, France.   Balley Register went to France as a private in Company B, 16th Infantry but became partially disabled and came home from the war without seeing action.  William O. Frazier became a private in Company E, 16th Infantry Regiment, was sent to France and fought in Sessions, Neuse River, and the Argonne Forest where he was severely wounded.  He eventually made a full recovery and came home from France after the war.

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A Plank Road for Troupville

In 1852, when all of Berrien County and the site of Ray City, GA, and other surrounding counties were still a part of old Lowndes County, the seat of county government was at Troupville, GA.

Troupville

The people of Troupville aspired to a transportation connection that would link them to the national economy.  Troupville already had a stage road, and a mail route, but the area’s main thoroughfare, the Coffee Road, lay 12 miles to the northwest. Troupville, nestled in the fork of the Withlacoochee River and the Little River, dreamed of a river way connection to float goods down to the Gulf of Mexico.  The folks of this section worked to get a railroad line through the town, but when it did come in 1857 the railroad would miss the mark by four miles.

Before that, in 1852, Troupville awaited the construction of a Plank Road which had been authorized by the State legislature.

Plank Road construction

Plank Road construction

The Act to incorporate the Satilla Plank Road Company, approved January 22, 1850, was a part of the  decade-long Plank Road Boom which began in 1844.

An Act to Incorporate the Satilla Plank Road Company

An Act to Incorporate the Satilla Plank Road Company

The Satilla Plank Road was to run from the Satilla River, through the Okefenokee Swap to Troupville, then on to Thomasville and on to the steamboat docks on the Flint River at Bainbridge, GA.  At Thomasville, it could connect with the Florida and Georgia Plank Road, already under construction, which ran to Monticello, FL then on to Newport, FL  on the St. Marks River.

 

Savannah Daily Morning News
January 20, 1852

A Plank Road through the Okefenokee Swamp

The Committee on Internal Improvements in the House, have reported in favor for a plank road through the Okefenokee Swamp to some point on the Flint River. According to the representations of the report, the enterprise is one of vast importance to Southern and South-western Georgia. The Bill reported proposes to grant the company one half of the unsurveyed portion of the swamp on condition that they build a good and sufficient road through the same. The following are the advantages as enumerated in the report:

         Looking upon the map of Georgia, we see the St. Ilia [Satilla], a bold river stretching from the sea coast inland, in a western direction, and navigable for steamers for forty-five miles. Measuring from thence, we pass in almost a direct line through the Okefenokee swamp, through Clinch county to Troupville, in Lowndes county, from thens to Thomasville, in Thomas county, to Bainbridge on the Flint river. The distance from the St. Illa to Bainbridge is one hundred and sixty miles.
          Diverging to the left from Troupville, we reach Monticello, thence to Tallahassee in Florida. The distance from the St. Illa to Tallahassee is one hundred and forty miles. From Monticello to Newport, (the sea port of the Gulf,) the distance is twenty-seven miles, between which places we are informed, a plank road is now being constructed, and some eighteen or twenty miles of which are already completed.
          From the St. Illa to Monticello, the distance is one hundred and thirteen miles, over which, if a plank road were constructed, would give a plank road connection between the shipping port on the Gulf, with a shipping point on the Atlantic side, the entire distance being one hundred and forty miles.
          We are informed the usual rate of freight on plank roads is one cent per bale of cotton, for each mile.
         The freight, then, from Bainbridge to the St. Illa, would be one dollar and sixty cents per bale, and from Tallahassee to the St. Illa, would be one dollar and forty cents per bale, the respective distance being, as before stated, one hundred and sixty miles, and one hundred and forty miles from Bainbridge and Tallahassee to the St. Illa river.
          From the St. Illa, the run can be made to Savannah by steamboats in ten hours, and a fair average rate of freight on cotton, would be forty cents per bale.
          Thus it will be seen that cotton can be transported through this route from Bainbridge to Savannah, from two dollars to two dollars twenty-five cents per bale, and from Tallahassee (in Florida) to Savannah, at one dollar and eighty cents to two dollars per bale.
          The Okefenokee Swamp, stretching as it does from North to South, forty-five to sixty miles, from Georgia into Florida, intercepts and cuts off the trade from a large and fertile portion of our State, and forces its products for shipment, through the Gulf ports in Florida, where the charges attendant on shipment are peculiarly extravagant.
          There is not a planter in Southern or South Western part of our State, but can bear testimony of the heavy charges, high rates of freight and insurance, and vexatious delays attendant on shipments of their produce from the Gulf ports.
          We have before us evidence from a planter of Thomas county, a member of this House, stating that the cost of sending his cotton to Thomasville, through the Gulf ports, to New York, and selling the same there, averages eight dollars per bale.
          It is apparent, then, to your committee, that by opening a plank road communication through the proposed rout, would cause a saving to the planters of the Southern portion of this State of from four to five dollars per bale, and the result would be that the produce of this State, being shipped through the ports of Florida, would in turn draw the products of Florida to Savannah, our own shipping port.

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Plank Road Boom

The Plank Road Boom was an economic boom that happened in the United States. Largely in the Eastern United States and New York, the boom lasted from 1844 to the mid 1850s. In about 10 years, over 3,500 miles of plank road were built in New York alone- enough road to go from Manhattan to California, and more than 10,000 miles of plank road were built countrywide.

The Plank Road Boom swept across Georgia, as it did the rest of the nation. At least 16 Plank Road Companies were incorporated in Georgia. By 1847, plank streets were being constructed in Savannah, connecting warehouses and wharves with the railroad. Over the next several years plank roads were planned all over Georgia. In 1849, North Carolina undertook the construction of a plank road connecting Fayetteville, NC to Savannah, GA. In Georgia, a plank road was proposed to run from Griffin to West Point. Another plank road was proposed from Barnesville, GA to the Montgomery Road at Macon.  A plank road was proposed from Washington to Elberton. In 1850, a bill was introduced “to incorporate the Dahlonega and Marietta Turnpike and Plank Road Company; and also to incorporate the Cumming and Atlanta Turnpike and Plank Road Company.” Also, “to incorporate the Cobb county and Alabama Turnpike or Plank Road Company; also, authorizing the construction of a Plank Road from Washington, in Wilkes county, to some point on the Georgia Rail Road.” A plank road was proposed from Albany to Oglethorpe. Among others planned were the Macon, Perry and Albany Plank Road, the Ogeechee Plank Road, the Columbus and Greenville Plank Road, the Atlanta and Sweetwater Plank Road, the Henderson and Marthasville Plank Road, and the Columbus and Lannahassee Plank Road.

          Proponents of plank roads stated that plank roads would make it much easier to carry goods and travel in general. They were stated to be 1/3 the cost of gravel roads. Plank roads were said to give a return on investment of 20% They also claimed that the roads will last for at least eight years, and if they don’t, that will be because of more people travelling on the road, which would thus result in more tolls collected. Much of the plank road building occurred in places where lumber was comparatively affordable due to thriving timber industries, as wood was usually over sixty percent of a plank road’s cost.
           National newspapers helped spread the plank road craze. In 1847, Hunts Merchants Magazine published an article titled “Plank Roads-New Improvement.” In 1849, Niles’ Weekly Register said plank roads were “growing into universal favor.” in the 1850s, the New York Tribune praised their ease of construction and said that the roads added a great amount to the transportation abilities of the New York. In March 1850, Scientific American said they viewed plank roads as a means of “completely reforming the interior or rural transit trade of our country.”  In 1852, Hunts Merchants Magazine published an article titled “The First Plank Road Movement,” it extolled plank roads.

In the list of great improvements which have given to this age the character which it will bear in history above all others-the age of happiness to the people-the plank road will have a prominent place, and it deserves it…the plank road is of the class of canals and railways. They are the three great inscriptions graven on the earth by the hand of modern science…

— Hunts Merchants’ Magazine

They also published an editorial saying “every section of the country should be lined with these roads.” Other written items include “Observations on Plank Roads” by George Geddes, “History, Structure and Statistics of Plank Roads in the United States and Canada,” by William Kingsford, and “A Manual of the Principles and Practice of Road-Making” by William M. Gillespie.

 It does not appear that the Satilla Plank Road was ever constructed.

Nashville, GA Electric and Water Plants Built in 1907

In the south end of Berrien County it wasn’t until 1923 that Ray City  got electric lights and running water, although some residents installed their own carbide electric systems before that.

Here’s an old newspaper clipping about the power and water plants built in Nashville, GA in 1907. The contractor for the construction of the plant was W.P. Tittle.  Tittle later owned a Maxwell car dealership in Nashville.

Nashville Herald article on town's first power and water

Nashville Herald article on town’s first power and water.

Nashville Herald
February 16, 1956

Electric and Water Plants Built in 1907

      Nashville citizens reached the decision in 1907 that something should be done about improving the water supply and furnishing electric lights for the town.
      After employing engineers to draft plans for a combined water and light plant a contract was let to W. P. Tittle, who built the plant and installed the water mains and electric distributing system.
      After much grief in attempting to operate the light plant a deal was finally completed in 1928 when the Southeast Georgia Power Co., purchased the electric light plant for $50,000. The Southeast Georgia Power Co., in turn sold the plant to the Georgia Power Co., who operate the electric distribution for Nashville today.
       The water plant, which the city retained, has been improved from time to time and additions made until today it is one of the most complete in the state. The water department of the City of Nashville is today serving 1,065 customers through the water meters, quite an increase from the less that 100 customers who began using city water when the plant was first installed.

Additional Notes:

Southeast Georgia Power Co., located at Douglas, GA, served several communities in south Georgia with electricity…

The Georgia Power Company on January 28, 1930, purchased from the Southeast Georgia Power Company the complete electric distribution systems in the towns of Alma, Nichols, Nashville, Willacoochee and Broxton, together with the respective franchises under which these distribution systems were operated. It also acquired certain transmission lines in Baker, Coffee, Atkinson and Berrien counties, between Alma and Douglas, Douglas and Broxton, Broxton and Ambrose, Douglas and Willacoochee, and Willacoochee and Nashville.

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WWII Vets added Vocational Building at Ray City School

Vocational School for WWII Vets

In 1948, a vocational building was erected by the veterans of World War II, at the end of five years this … [became] a part of Ray City School.

The Class of 1949 wrote, “This year, 1949, the veterans are also completing a very modern and up-to-date lunchroom, which is a great asset to our school. “

Veterans at Ray City School, 1948-49

Veterans at Ray City School, 1948-49

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WWII Veterans at Ray City School, 1948-1949.

WWII Veterans at Ray City School, 1948-1949.

Albert Studstill was one of the Ray City WWII veterans that helped build the Vocational buildings at the Ray City School and also at the old high school in Nashville, GA .

Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the G&F

Thomas Babington McCauley, Locomotive Engineer on the Georgia and Florida Railroad.

The Georgia & Florida Railroad was Ray City, Georgia’s connection to the world.  In the 1920s, G&F trains stopped at Ray City several times a day, with freight and passenger service.  Ray City had its own train depot, and section houses for railroad employees and their families.   A big wooden water tower stood just south of Main Street on the east side of the tracks to provide water for the trains.

The G&F railroad chose Douglas, GA,  about 60 miles northward up the track from Ray City, as the location for its offices and railroad shops. The railroad employed many workers at Douglas, including the porters, conductors, brakemen, firemen, and engineers that ran the trains. Thomas Babington McCauley was one of those locomotive engineers.

Thomas Babington McCauley, Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley (1878-1948), Engineer on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

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Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley, Sr., engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad

Thomas Babington McCauley was born on the 4th of July, 1878 in Wilkes County, GA and raised on his father’s farms in Wilkes and Taliferro counties. He was a son of Elijah H. McCauley and Elizabeth S. Beck. His father was a farmer and served as U.S. Postmaster at Robinson, GA.

Thomas B. McCauley’s father died in 1906.  In 1907 he married Carrie Mae Fouts.  McCauley and his brother-in-law, Furman Fouts, went to work as railroad engineers on the newly opened Georgia & Florida Railroad.  By 1910, they both moved to Douglas, GA where the G&F rail yard was located. Both the McCauleys and the Fouts rented houses  on Madison Avenue in Douglas, in a neighborhood full of railroad workers.

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 at Douglas. GA in 1948

Georgia & Florida Engine No. 208 photographed at Douglas, GA in 1948

Other locomotive engineers in Douglas, GA in 1910 were John Stewart, Pat Sellers, William C. McKinley, Hiram Handcock, Henry Handcock, John M. Chatman, Theodore Steinecke, John Rolison, Mitchell Drew, James P. Meade, Arthur Sikes, Thomas R. Sykes, Spencer H. Strickland Remer Brown, John C. Tucker, —- Fullerton, Riley B. Sweat, Thomas B. Folsom, William H. Edenfeld, Albert W. Johnson, Calvin Yawn, John E. Yawn.

Working at locomotive fireman were  Thomas Ford, Julius Burton, Ben Jackson, Will Mahorn, Jim Reeves, John Wesley, Thomas McLeod, William H. Dies, Dave Wilcox, Augustus Allen, Joe Button, Milton Thorn, Alvin Lee, Henry Jones and George Kings.

Watt Dishman, John English, George Williams, Jeff Caloway, Tom Thomas, Willie Johnson and Thomas Burel worked at brakeman.

The railroad conductors were John Coleman, Sam Barber, John Rowland, Charlie H. Vaugh, and John H. Renfroe, Jesse Kennedy, Lewis Odum, Earnest E Graybill, Hardee Slaughter, John F. Touchton, Roscoe G. Lufter, Willie B. Lee, Albert M. Barrett and Floyd Mainor.

Thomas Dumes and Fred Brown were railroad porters.

By 1920, Tom McCauley had moved his family some 40 miles up the track of the G&F to Vidalia, GA where he continued as a locomotive engineer for the railroad. The McCauleys rented a house in Vidalia on Church Street about two blocks from the train station.    “Vidalia was an important railroad hub…. With the addition of the Georgia and Florida Line in 1917, the city had five railroads running through it (tracks ran in seven different directions). In 1917, direct lines were available “in busy season” to Savannah, Macon, Augusta, and Florida’s cities, with 10 to 14 passenger trains scheduled daily. In addition, some 500 cars of freight were handled each day. Railroad structures included Union Station passenger depot, two freight depots, coal chute and water tank that supplied fuel and steam power for the many locomotives and a train car service turntable.

 

Vidalia's Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank's swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

Vidalia Union Station, built in 1912-13 at the junction of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad (right) and Seaboard Air Line Railway (left). Located at the far western edge of Railroad Avenue, facing the bisected block of Leader and Main streets, the brick passenger depot (Union Station) was a fish hook-shaped building dominated by its two-story corner tower with bellcast conical roof. It also featured a Ludowici tile roof, dormer windows, and wide overhanging eaves with brackets. The water tower, which was the tallest structure in the area for nearly forty years, stood almost directly in front of Union Station. The tank’s swivelling hoses pivoted almost 360 degrees, enabling trains to be serviced from either side of the structure. East of Union Station along Railroad Avenue was the first freight depot. Image source: https://railga.com/Depots/vidalia.html

 

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Railroad Engineer Thomas Babington McCauley and children, Harvey McCauley, Jeanette McCauley, Marion McCauley, and Thomas Jr., on a Georgia & Florida Railroad locomotive, probably photographed 1919 or early  1920.

Sadly, Harvey McCauley died shortly after the above photograph was taken.

By 1922 Tom McCauley transferred again on the Georgia & Florida route, to Augusta, GA where he would remain the rest of his life.

On the afternoon of October 28, 1922, Tom McCauley and his fireman, Augustus Harvey Green, survived the derailment of their G&F locomotive.   The Atlanta Constitution briefly noted the wreck in the Sunday edition, October 29, 1922, with some minor errors in the reporting.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution reports engineer Tom McCauley is injured in train derailment on the Georgia & Florida Railroad.

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Engineer Hurt As Locomotive And Car Derail

Augusta, Ga., Oct 28. – (Special.) – Engineer T. B. McCauley, of Sandersville, was seriously injured when his engine and baggage car of Georgia and Florida passenger train No. 2, bound for Augusta, derailed two miles out of Mitchel this afternoon. Both of his feet were severely mashed and he received internal injuries. He was taken to the Sandersville hospital. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Augusta, was internally injured.

The G&F wreck was reported in more detail in the Constitution’s follow-up story on Monday, October 30, 1922

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution reports 1922 train wreck on Georgia & Florida Railroad

Atlanta Constitution
October 29, 1922

Hurt in Wreck, Engineer Better

McCauley Loses Five Toes When Passenger Locomotive Turns Over Near Mitchell, GA.

        Sandersville, Ga., October 29.- (Special.)- Engineer Tom McCauley, of Augusta, who was injured on the Georgia & Florida near Mitchell Saturday afternoon when his engine turned over, was reported out of danger at the sanitarium here Sunday night.
        McCauley was at the throttle of passenger train No. 2 from Tennille to Keysville, running half an hour late, one-half mile north of Mitchell, while running about 20 miles an hour going around a curve on a crossing, the pony truck jumped the track on an accumulation of sand. The driving wheels followed and the locomotive turned over almost squarely across the track.
        McCauley’s right foot was crushed, making it necessary for local surgeons to amputate five toes. He was also slightly scalded but not internally injured, as first reported. No passengers were injured. The negro fireman, Harvey Green, of Tennille, on of the oldest in service of this road, received a dislocated shoulder and severe bruises.
         The engine was literally demolished, the boiler being stripped clean with exception of wheels. The baggage car was derailed but did not turn over, and the first class coach remained on the rails. Several hundred people gathered at the scene of the wreck today to see the wrecker clean up the debris.
       Trains were able to pass at noon and normal traffic restored. The Georgia and Florida secured the C. & W. C. wrecker and its crew from Augusta, rather than delay waiting on their equipment at Douglas.

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Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

Thomas Babington McCauley and family. Tom Babington was a locomotive engineer for the Georgia & Florida Railroad. His right foot was maimed in a train derailment.

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Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

Georgia & Florida Railroad Card belonging to wife of retired railroad engineer Thomas Babington McCauley

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Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

Carrie McCauley, wife of railroad engineer Tom McCauley

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The “Valdosta Special” opened Georgia & Florida Railroad, October 1, 1908

Georgia & Florida Railroad

The Section Foreman in Ray City was Cauley May.

EXCURSION TO OPEN RAILROAD - The "Valdosta Special" came through Ray City October 1, 1908 to open the main line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. The picture was made in Nashville, GA, showing passengers to first ride the new line.

EXCURSION TO OPEN RAILROAD – The “Valdosta Special” came through Ray City October 1, 1908 to open the main line of the Georgia & Florida Railroad. The picture was made in Nashville, GA, showing passengers to first ride the new line.

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Georgia & Florida Railroad No. 100 passenger car

Georgia & Florida Railroad No. 100 passenger car

Georgia and Florida Railroad, January, 1955. Wendell and Necie Rogers with Engine 507 at the Nashville, GA depot. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

Georgia and Florida Railroad, January, 1955. Wendell and Necie Rogers with Engine 507 at the Nashville, GA depot. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

 

T.J. Sutton and Ed Benton with Georgia and Florida Railroad Engine No. 507 at the depot in Nashville, GA, March 24, 1955. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

T.J. Sutton and Ed Benton with Georgia and Florida Railroad Engine No. 507 at the depot in Nashville, GA, March 24, 1955. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

Nashville Herald
Thursday, February 16, 1956

Main Line of Ga. & Fla. Railroad Opened in 1908.

          The Georgia & Florida Railroad (now Railway) is a part of the rich history of this section of Georgia, and in a large measure has contributed to the growth and expansion of Berrien County, and the counties adjacent.
      This railroad furnished a more stable means of transportation than was available in the early days, despite the multiplicity of small log lines.

Organized in 1906
         The Georgia & Florida was organized by Mr. John Skelton Williams in 1906 and at that time consisted of the following roads:
         The Augusta and Florida Railroad, 49 miles in length from Keysville to Swainsboro.
         The Millen & Southwestern Railroad of 42 miles between Millen and Vidalia.
         The Douglas, Augusta & Gulf Railroad, 76 miles between Hazlehurst and Nashville, via Broxton.
         The Nashville & Sparks Railroad twelve miles from Nashville to Sparks, GA.
         The Sparks Western twenty miles of log road between Sparks and Kingwood.

No Shops

         None of the roads had any shops except the Millen & Southwestern, other than a pair of heavy jacks and such hand tools as were needed in doing the general repair work in the operation of trains.
         The rolling stock was an odd assortment of all sorts of engines, a few log cars, a few box cars and two to four passengers cars.
         Out of this hodge podge assortment of rail lines and equipment the work of creating a going railroad business was started.
         Financial conditions of the railway became critical in 1913 and on March 27, 1915, receivers were appointed, which receivership continued until January 1, 1927 when the Georgia & Florida Railway was sold and deeded to The Georgia & Florida Railroad. Due to disastrous floods and heavy costs the Railroad again was ordered into receivership by the District Court of the United States.
         Despite it’s financial troubles the receivers have done a good job of increasing the rolling stock, installing Diesel engines, etc. and the road now ships the largest percentage of tobacco, turpentine and watermelons than any other road of it’s size.

Nashville Proud of G. & F.

         The Georgia & Florida Railroad continues to be well thought of in Berrien county and Nashville. For Nashville it is the only surviving rail link to the outside world, though passenger and mail service have long since been discontinued.
        The road serves as the principal freight hauler of merchandise and manufactured goods. Since the coming of the Tobacco Market it has to be especially valuable, and goes all out to give service to it’s patrons.
        It’s contributions to the growth of the section through which it traverses have been great, and though at times the railroad itself was in financial jam, there has been no movement that would develop this part of Georgia but the Georgia & Florida railroad could be depended upon to do it’s part.
         The first tobacco market in Georgia was on the Georgia & Florida railroad in 1917, when the farmers as well as railroads were asking for a market. A meeting of business men was held at Douglas and in just one hour the capital was subscribed. When the season opened in the late summer, the Red Warehouse with a floor space of 90×140 was doing business on the Georgia & Florida. The first tobacco was sold for 20 cents per pound, but today tobacco is gold in Georgia.

Georgia and Florida Railroad

Georgia and Florida Railroad

Lucious Norman Gillham

Lucious Norman Gillham was a veteran of World War II and came to Ray City, GA with his wife after the war. He was born in Jackson County, GA on January 5, 1908, a son of George Washington Gillham and Estelle Mae Gillham.

Lucious N. Gillham enlisted April 24, 1943 at Ft. McPherson, Atlanta, GA.  At the time of enlistment he was living in Fulton County, GA, and was employed as a textile mill worker.  His father and older siblings had all been mill workers at the Porterdale Mill at Newton County, GA since before 1920s.  Lucious was only educated through the 5th grade, after which he left school to take up work. After the death of his father in 1925, Lucious went to work at a textile mill in Varennes, SC but by 1935 he was back at the Porterdale Mill working as a doffer.

Porterdale Mill belonged to the Bibb Manufacturing Company,  one of the largest employers in the state.  “The City of Porterdale is located 35 miles east of Atlanta on the Yellow River in Newton County, Georgia.  In 1899 the Bibb Manufacturing Company built a twine mill on the river and named it Porterdale Mill after a founder of the community, Oliver Porter.  The community of mill homes attracted workers looking for jobs and a better life.”

Porterdale Mill, Georgia

Porterdale Mill, Georgia

People came from all over the state to work in the Porterdale mill.  Among the many workers enumerated at Porterdale in the 1940 census  were Pasco Olandro Hall, of Ray City, GA; Tom Sirmans Jones, of Nashville, GA;  Grady Bloodworth, from the upper 10th District of Berrien County; Jesse Franklin Bennett of Adel, GA; Lois, Jessie Mae, James and Elmer Black, four teenage siblings from Lowndes County, GA.  One wonders if Lucious Gillham and the mill workers from South Georgia knew each other, and if their association later influenced Lucious to come to Ray City. At any rate, Lucious  and Jeanette Gillham moved about 1947 to Ray City,  where for 18 years they worked a farm on Route 1.

Lucious Gillham died on May 28, 1965 and was buried at Pleasant Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.  His obituary appeared in the Nashville Herald.

 

Obituary of Lucious Norman Gillham, of Ray City, GA

Obituary of Lucious Norman Gillham, of Ray City, GA

Nashville Herald
June 3, 1965

Lucious Gillham Dies On Friday Morning

        Lucious N. Gillham, who made his home on Route One, Ray City, and was for the past eighteen years a resident of that area, succumbed to a lengthy illness early Friday morning, May 28. Mr. Gillham was confined to Berrien County Hospital at the time of his passing.
        Born on January 5, 1908, the deceased was 57 years of age.  A native Georgian, he was the son of the late George W. and Stella Mae Lowrey Gillham. He was married on December 31, 1935 to the former Miss Jeanette Dorsey, by whom he is survived. Mr. Gillham saw service in the United States Army during World War II, and before declining health curtailed his activity he was a farmer.
        Funeral services were conducted from the Pleasant Primitive Baptist Church at 2 o’clock on Sunday afternoon, May 30, with Elder Howard Weaver officiating. In accordance with Primitive Baptist doctrine, an unaccompanied choir sang three time-honored hymns of consolation, Amazing Grace, Rock of Ages, and In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Laid to rest in the churchyard cemetery, Mr. Gillham was accompanied to his place of last repose by a cortege of military men from nearby Moody Air Force Base.
        Besides his widow, Mr. Gillham leaves three sisters, Mrs. Doris Dix, of Griffin, and Mrs. Mildred West and Mrs. Beatrice Goode, both of Douglasville. There are also a number of nices and nephews.
       All details were completed under the direction of Lovein Funeral Home.

 

 

Grave of Lucious N. Gillham and Jeanette Dorsey Gillham, Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA

Grave of Lucious N. Gillham and Jeanette Dorsey Gillham, Pleasant Cemetery near Ray City, GA

Ray City Christmas 1959

Rossie Futch celebrates Christmas 1959 with his grand daughter Lee, and her new baby doll.

Rossie Futch and his granddaughter on Christmas Day, 1959 at Tallahassee, FL

Rossie Futch and his granddaughter on Christmas Day, 1959.

Rossie Futch (1899-1968) was a native of Berrien County and a resident of Ray City, GA for 50 years.  His second wife was Lessie Guthrie Miley.  After 1950, the Futch Residence was at 406 J0nes Street (now 507 Jones Street).

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Ray City, GA ~ Town is Smaller Now

A sign on the tracks of the Georgia & Florida Railroad indicates the town of Ray City, GA to passing trains. The trains no longer stop at Ray City, although the town once had a bustling depot.

ray-city-ga_old-news-clipping

Times Union
1978

Ray City
The town is smaller now, but folks are coming back home

RAY CITY, Ga. – Before the turn of the century there were more than 27 businesses, five doctors, a pharmacy, corn mill, sawmill and several thousand people.

Ray City has changed.

The town now has a population of 725. What remains are a few stores and churches, the remnants of the corn mill – now a restaurant and fish camp – and Victory Soda Shop and General Store, where people meet to exchange news and gossip.

Billy Clements, owner of The Victory and long-time Ray City resident, said the closing of the sawmill and the Depression drove most of the people away, but old residents are “gradually creeping back.”

People come from all over to listen to John Guthrie play his guitar or just talk.
“I could talk all day about music, Guthrie said.

Guthrie teaches music to anyone who wants to learn, and musicians from all over the country meet in Ray City for jam sessions.

Lamar Booth, who runs the fish camp, points out that the Old Mill Pond draws a number of out-of-town fishermen during the summer. The lake is more than a mile wide but only 5 to 7 feet deep.

Booth’s mother, Mrs. Ann Campbell, owns a cafe, which is the main attraction at the pond. People say she serves the best fish dinners in the area.

The original post office and general store were at the lake during the late 1800s, and the corn mill (it opened in 1863) was once the heart of Ray City’s economy.

The town limits form a one-mile circle, located on Highway 37, 15 miles east of Adel between Nashville and Valdosta.

Farming is the main occupation in Ray City now, though many of the town’s people travel to Valdosta, Adel, Lakeland and Nashville for work, according to Mrs. Don Wilson, the town clerk said. Many residents also own or work in local businesses, she said.

Clements said there is not much for people to do after work except hunt or fish and many young people go to other places for entertainment.

He said he likes it there, because “people care for each other and pitch in and help each other when they need it, like a big family.”

Rays Mill Public Service Company Electrified Hahira

The Rays Mill Public Service Company was formed about 1912 to provide local public utilities services, including electric and telephone service.

America's Electrical Week

America’s Electrical Week

The week of December 2 to 9, 1916 was celebrated throughout the country as America’s Electrical Week. During this time electricity and electrical goods were in the spotlight to an unusual extent. Thousands of manufacturers, dealers and agents in every state of the Union were booming the celebration. December 2, 1916 was the first time the Statue of Liberty was illuminated. The Western Electric Company celebrated the big week.

Coincidentally, the Western Electric News, December, 1916 edition included a note about the Rays Mill Public Service company.

Despite its name, the Rays Mill Public Service company apparently first offered service in Hahira, GA.   The article below indicates that the company established electrical service at Hahira in 1912 (Electrification would not be established in Ray City until 1923).  The company was proud of its record of uninterrupted service in Hahira and of the fact that its power plant was so simply designed that it could be operated by an illiterate.

Rays Mill clipping from December, 1916 edition of the Western Electric News.

Rays Mill clipping from December, 1916 edition of the Western Electric News.

Western Electric News
December, 1916

As Others See Us

Four years ago we sold the Rays Mill Public Service Western Electric equipment for an electric light plant to supply Hahira, Georgia, with electricity. Our Atlanta office recently received an unsolicited letter from the Manager of the Public Service that says in part:
“We have a record with our plant that I am certain very few others have, and that is – we have never had a “dark” night since. Mr. Pinch turned the juice on something like three or four years ago – and furthermore we have never had a man that run our plant that we paid more than $50.00 per month, and he is now running it and cannot read his own name in print! Now if that is not some RECORD for Western Electric goods I will that some man to trot out one better.

The company was later renamed the Ray City Public Service company.

 

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