Dog Day Duel Brings Death

Horace Luke, son of Estell Nash and Perry Luke, was the second fatality of the Johnson-Luke Feud in the Summer of 1926.  On a Saturday afternoon, August 28, 1926 the young boy was riding with his parents to pick up his grandmother, Lucretia “Cresie”  Luke, at her home near Ray City, GA when the family was accosted by an “in-law.”   In the ensuing gun battle, the boy’s parents were both wounded,  his uncle Lonnie Johnson was killed with a shotgun blast, and Horace was fatally wounded in the chest.  He died on Sunday, August 29, 1926.

Horace Luke, age 6, was a victim of the 1926 Johnson-Luke fued in Berrien County, GA

Horace Luke, age 6, was a victim of the 1926 Johnson-Luke feud in Berrien County, GA

The Atlanta Constitution
August 30, 1926   Pg 11

6-YEAR-OLD BOY FEUD VICTIM DIES

    Nashville, Ga., August 29.   Perry Luke, Jr. aged about six years, died during the night of a gunshot wound received yesterday in the gun battle staged in the Johnson-Luke family feud.

   The boy was wounded in the chest by bullets fired during a gunshot battle staged on a highway near here in which Lonnie Johnson,  35, of Daytona, Fla., formerly of Berrien county, was killed, Perry Luke was shot in the shoulder and Mrs. Perry Luke was shot through the neck, the bullet coming out at the mouth.

    Lonnie Johnson, just back from Florida, who was in an automobile with his wife, is said to have driven to the home of Walter Luke, informing him that he was going to wipe out the family of Walter’s brother, Perry, on sight.

    At the time, according to information in the hands of county officers, Lonnie Johnson, who married a sister of Mrs. Perry Luke, ascertained that Perry Luke had gone to the home of his mother, to get her to spend Sunday with them.  The mother resides on the highway between Adel and Ray City.

    As Johnson drove away rapidly in the direction of the residence of his mother, Walter Luke, cranked up his truck and obtained his shotgun and started in pursuit, but the automobile outran the truck in the chase.

   When approaching the residence of his mother, Walter Luke found Lonnie Johnson’s car turned across the highway, blocking traffic, while he said Lonnie Johnson was shooting into the car containing his brother and the members of his family.

    As he climbed out of the truck Walter Luke says that Lonnie Johnson turned his pistol upon him, but Walter Luke opened fire with his shotgun and killed Johnson almost instantly.

The Survivors and the Dead

Lonnie Johnson was killed on August 28, 1926 by a shotgun blast fired by his brother-in-law Walter Luke.  Father-in-law Edward C. Nash was the informant on Johnson’s death certificate.  The location of Lonnie Johnson’s grave is not known.

Death Certificate of Lonnie Johnson, August 28, 1926.

Death Certificate of Lonnie Johnson, August 28, 1926.

Horace Luke, shot in the chest by Lonnie Johnson, died the following day, on Sunday, August 29, 1926.  Horace Luke was buried at Flat Creek Cemetery, north of Nashville, GA.

Grave marker of Horace Luke, Flat Creek Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Grave marker of Horace Luke, Flat Creek Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Bessie Nash Johnson was uninjured in the feud. She contracted tuberculosis and went to the State Tuberculosis Sanitarium at Alto, GA.  She died less than a year after the gun battle, passing from this life on June 7, 1927.

Death certificate of Bessie Nash Johnson, State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Alto, GA

Death certificate of Bessie Nash Johnson, State Tuberculosis Sanitarium, Alto, GA

Fannie Estell Nash Luke, wife of Perry Luke, was “shot in the neck, the bullet coming out at the mouth.”  She died ten years later and was buried at Flat Creek Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

The Nashville Herald
Mrs. W.P. Luke Is Called By Death
 

   Mrs. W. P. Luke, well known and highly esteemd [sic] Berrien county lady, died Tusday [sic] morning at 11 o’clock at her home 14 miles south of Nashville on the Nashville-Valdosta highway.  She had been ill since September. The deceased, who was 33 years of age, was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ed C. Nash, who reside near Lake Park, but former Berrien county citizens.  Mrs. Luke was born and reared in this county, and was married to Mr. Luke about 15 years ago.
     Funeral services were held Wednesday morning at 11 o’clock at Flat Creek church, conducted by Rev. A.H. Giddens and Elder John Harris of Valdosta, and lasting tributes were paid to the life of the deceased.
     The pall-bearers were Messrs T.B. McDonald, John Stalvey, Jim Willer, John Chason, J.A. Sapp and J.T. Herring.
    Arrangements and burial were in charge of the Giddens Funeral Home of  Nashville.
    Surviving are the husband, three sons, two daughters, two brothers and one sister.

Perry Luke, shot in the shoulder,  survived and lived to age 63. He died  September 26, 1963 and was buried at Flat Creek Church Cemetery, Berrien County, GA.

Walter Luke was not injured in the battle. He died June 8, 1975 in Lowndes County, GA.

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Ray City Citizens Fought Creation of Lanier County

In August 1919, the General Assembly of Georgia passed an act to place an amendment to the Georgia Constitution creating Lanier County on the ballot  for the November 1920 general elections.  But in 1920,  as the election approached, there was strenuous objection from the Ray City area.  Many citizens who were well associated with the history of Ray City found that their property would be on the Lanier side of the new county line, including such family  names as Giddens, Clements, Swindle, Sirmans and others.  Desiring to remain in Berrien county, these land owners, led by A.W. Gaskins, filed a motion with the courts to stop the vote on the constitutional amendment that would create the new county.

Atlanta Constitution
Sep 2, 1920

COURT IS ASKED TO BAR CREATION OF LANIER COUNTY

     Hearing on a permanent injunction brought by citizens of Berrien county to restrain Governor Dorsey from advertizing, as required by law, the proposed constitutional amendment creating the new county of Lanier, was set for September 11, in the Fulton superior court, by Judge John D. Humphries, following a short hearing on a temporary injunction on the same petition, which was denied by Judge Humphries.
     The bill was filed by Attorneys R.A. Hendricks, James A. Alexander and W.D. Biue, of Berrien county, and Bryan and Middlebrooks, of Atlanta. The petitioning citizens are as follows:
     A.U. Gaskins, A.H. Giddens, H.C. Clements, R.D. Swindle, John Sirmans, Raygood Lankford, S.S. Watson, L.S. Sirmans, Mrs. Rachel Postick, W.L. Rouse, John C. Sirmans, J.B. Baskins, J.W. Bloodworth, J.J. Porke, Leo Griner, J.H.Patten. S.H. Winderweedles, W.C. Johnson, Mrs. Martha Clements, A.J. Clements, Levi J. Clements, L. J. Clements, Jr., Bud Watson, Bryant Avers, J. L. Lee, Jasper J. Cook, L.S. Simms, J.H. Clements, J. P. Watson, D. Harrell, R.S. Johnson and John Boyett.
     This action was taken to prevent the submission to the voters in the general election in November of the question of the creation of Lanier county, and the petition asks that Governor Dorsey be enjoined from issuing a proclamation authorizing the vote, and that Secretary of State S. Guyt McLendon be restrained from announcing the result of any vote on the question; and that the state superintendent of printing be restrained from printing a proclamation by the governor.
     The petitioners claim that the promoters of Lanier county made a written and signed agreement with the affected property owners of Berrien county as to the part of Berrien county that would be in Lanier county; that the agreement was violated without their knowledge and consent, so that 9,540 additional acres of land, valued at $150,000, was taken into the county. The petitioning citizens represent this extra land, and declare that they did not want to be taken into the new county.

The petitioners request for an injunction was denied. They appealed all the way to the Georgia Supreme court where they lost in the case of  GASKINS et al v. DORSEY, Governor, et al.  The  Amendment issue went ahead in November, and the constitutional amendment to create Lanier county was passed by the voters.

The petitioners, this time led by Dr. H.W. Clements,  then filed  for an injunction to stop the first election of officers in the newly created county, but that too, failed.   While Clements and others appealed to a higher court, the election was held as scheduled on  the first Wednesday in December 1920.

Not to be deterred, Dr. Clements and others again pursued the appeal of two cases all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court, CLEMENTS el al v. WILKERSON et al  and CLEMEMENTS et al v. ANDERSON et al, in an attempt to nullify the creation of the new county.

But in the end the Georgia Supreme court ruled that any decision was moot since the election  of  county officers had already been held and the case was dismissed.

All challenges aside, Georgia voters approved the constitutional amendment on Nov. 2, 1920, which marks the official date of the creation of Lanier County.

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Charles S. Parham ~ A “Sandlapper” Comes to Rays Mill

According to sciway.com, the term Sandlapper is a friendly nickname for South Carolinians. Charles S. “Charlie” Parham was a  transplant to Berrien County,  a “Sandlapper” originally hailing from South Carolina, and at other times living in Alabama , Florida, or Georgia.  He came to live  in Rays Mill, GA (nka Ray City) around 1898, when he was about  25 years old. Although he had just completed a program of study at the Georgia-Alabama Business College, he occupied himself in farming upon his arrival in Berrien county.  His brother,  Edwin P. Parham,  had previously settled in Berrien County and  was living at Rays Mill when enumerated in the census of 1900 and again in 1910.  Charlie Parham  farmed at Rays Mill for a couple of years and continued his studies.  He does not appear in Rays Mill in the Census of 1900, perhaps being away at school at the time the census was taken.  Around 1901 he spent a year in Abbeville, Ga attending Georgia Normal College and Business Institute. He taught many years in Berrien schools and served on the county school board.

By 1902 Charlie Parham was living in Nashville, Ga  and on February 8, 1903  he married Lola Lee Giddens of Rays Mill, GA.  She was a daughter of  Fannie Baskins and  William Knight Giddens.

Marriage Certificate of Charles S. Parham and Lola Lee Giddens,  February 8 1903, Berrien County, GA.

Marriage Certificate of Charles S. Parham and Lola Lee Giddens, February 8 1903, Berrien County, GA. Image Src: http://cdm.sos.state.ga.us/u?/countyfilm,187825

In Nashville, Charlie Parham found employment clerking in the local stores. He also found time for public office and taught in local schools.

1926 Poplar Springs Consolidated School opening. Inscription on building reads "Poplar Springs School District, Minerva Academy. Trustees: A. J. Guthrie, Chairman, J. L. Hughes, Secretary and Treasurer, N. L. Singletary; Originators of Consolidation, Moses G. Sirmons, S. M. Green, Dr. J. R. Lasseter; William G. Avera, Designer of Building, W. E. Register, Builder 1926." Teachers, Annie Lee Nix Maddox, Golie Spells, _____Sike, Charlie E. Parham, Alice Knight. (It is thought that many of the above-named persons are in this photo; Wm (Bill) G. Avera, School Superintendent, is the man with left hand against his chest, near middle of 2nd row.) Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

1926 Poplar Springs Consolidated School opening. Inscription on building reads “Poplar Springs School District, Minerva Academy. Trustees: A. J. Guthrie, Chairman, J. L. Hughes, Secretary and Treasurer, N. L. Singletary; Originators of Consolidation, Moses G. Sirmons, S. M. Green, Dr. J. R. Lasseter; William G. Avera, Designer of Building, W. E. Register, Builder 1926.” Teachers, Annie Lee Nix Maddox, Golie Spells, _____Sike, Charlie E. Parham, Alice Knight. (It is thought that many of the above-named persons are in this photo; Wm (Bill) G. Avera, School Superintendent, is the man with left hand against his chest, near middle of 2nd row.) Image courtesy of berriencountyga.com

In the 1920s, C.S. Parham was situated with Miller Hardware & Furniture Company, his name appearing on the company letterhead.  At that time the firm had stores in Ray City, Nashville, and Milltown (Lakeland), GA.   

  
C.S. Parham appeared on the letterhead of Miller Hardware & Furniture Company in the 1920s.

C.S. Parham appeared on the letterhead of Miller Hardware & Furniture Company in the 1920s.

In 1937, the Nashville Herald ran a biographical sketch of Charles S. Parham that included additional details.

Nashville Herald
May 6, 1937
Flowers for the Living: CHARLES S. PARHAM

The subject this week is a South Carolina “Sandlaper” [sic] by birth, but a Georgian by preference.  Mr. C.S. Parham, known locally as Charlie, was born and reared in Malboro county, S.C. in 1873, making him 64 years old at this writing.  His father was the late C. J. Parham, who died in 1914 at 75 years of age, and his mother passed away in 1887 at 40 years of age.  Both were natives of South Carolina and lived all of their lives in that state.
       At the age of ten years Mr. Parham moved to Florida where he lived for the next ten years.  At twenty years of age he came to Georgia, enrolling at the Georgia-Alabama Business College in Macon.  The following year he was graduated.  It is strange to learn that prior to his business college education he had attended school only three weeks.  The education he had acquired was soaked up through his teens of his own accord.  He applied himself well for the chance he had.
In 1897 he left for Montgomery, Ala. where he worked for a year.  From there he came to Ray City, (old Rays Mill), his first time in Berrien county, where he farmed two years, and at the same time attending school at Lakeland (then Milltown). After that he took a teacher’s course at Abbeville for one year.  Since that course he taught school off and on for twenty years.
       He came to Nashville to live in 1902, and here he has resided ever since.  He first clerked for A. E. Bullard, General Merchandise, later taking a job in the store of S. T. Tygart, hardware dealer, which he held for over six years. During his time with Mr. Tygart he was elected Clerk of the Berrien Superior Court. This was in 1910.  He served two successful terms, four years, then offered and was elected county treasurer.  Before he could take over his duties, the office was abolished. This was his last time offering for public office.
       However, he has over the years served twelve years on the Nashville school board, and one term as city councilman. He is a member of the Nashville Baptist church and for years has been church clerk.
In 1903 he was married to Miss Lola Giddens, sister of Rev. A. H. Giddens of Nashville. There are two children, Mr. C. V. Parham of Atlanta, and Mrs. Charles Norwood of Nashville.  There is only one brother, Mr. E. P. Parham of Brooks county.
Mr. Parham is strictly a business man, and does not have much time for foolishness.  He does, however, like to go fishing when they bite, but does not care for hunting, explaining that there is always too much walking.  He likes to see a good basketball game.
      He is known to be one of the county’s most able business men, attending to his duties, which practice has brought him success and financial stability. He is honest, clear-cut in his views and frank to say what he thinks and believes.  No one can accuse Charlie Parham of being two-faced, the worst feature of so many.  He will certainly call his shots as he sees them. This is one of his most admirable traits. At present he operates a number of farms near Nashville, and   each year makes money.
      Mr. Parham is a good citizen, and Berrien county people are glad to know they have a “sandlaper” in their midst. He is highly regarded and for a very good reason.

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