Watson Grade News March 4, 1904

A continuation of a series of 1904 articles in the Tifton Gazette on the residents of “Watson Grade” by  anonymous author “Trixie.”  The Watson Grade community was just  northeast of Ray’s Mill, GA, near Empire Church where the Watson, Patten, Lee, Cook and Sirmans  families all farmed.   On March 4, 1904, the Watson Grade news included a report that Marcus Greene had seriously injured his hand.

Marcus Greene (1877-1935), farmer of Berrien County, GA. Image source: D. Jane Griffin

Marcus Greene (1877-1935), farmer of Berrien County, GA. Image source: D. Jane Griffin

1904-mar-4-watson-grade-news

Tifton Gazette
March 4, 1904

Watson Grade News.

         We are having some fine weather and the farmers are making good use of it.
         Last Sunday was regular service at Empire, and there was quite a crowd out.
         Mr. S. W. Watson, of Irwin was down last Friday to see his brother Mr. Jos. Watson, who has been suffering with cancer for sometime, but is fast improving.
         The advance on the price of guano seems to have nothing to do with the amount our farmers are buying, as many of them are failing to get their orders filled.
         Mr. Marcus Greene got one of his hands painfully hurt one day last week while riding on the Gray Lumber Co’s log-train. It is thought some of his fingers, if not his hand, will have to be amputated.
         Mr. Aaron Cook caught two trout in Ray’s mill pond last Thursday that weighed fifteen lbs.
         Mr. and Mrs. Joe Kirkland visited relatives in Clinch last Sunday.
         Mr. W. C. Patten has the nicest specimen of South Georgia stock raising to be seen in this section. He has two young colts in his lot that would be a credit to any stock raising country.
         A little girl arrived at the home of Mr. and Mrs. S.I. Watson a few days since.
         The school and Round Pond opened up last Monday under the management of Mr. Jno. Greene, of near Lois.

Trixie

Some notes on the personal mentions:

Mr. S.W. Watson
Samuel W. Watson (1863-1925), a son of Mark R Watson and Rachel Slaughter, was born and raised in the Rays Mill district (1144 Georgia Militia District).  S.W. Watson moved his family  to Irwin County some time before 1900, but returned to Berrien before 1910.

Marcus Greene
Marcus Greene, a farmer of Berrien County,  was a son of Marshall and Elizabeth Greene. He was a brother of Riley M. Greene, who would later be an investor in the Bank of Rays Mill.

Gray Lumber Company
The Gray Lumber Company had as a principal investor Benjamin B. Gray. Gray was a brother-in-law of the notorius outlaw Ben Furlong (c.1854-1886).

Aaron Cook
Aaron Cook
, a veteran of the Spanish American War, was a farmer and lifelong resident of the area.

Mr. & Mrs. Joe Kirkland
Joseph S. Kirkland and Glovie Ann Register were a young couple, married on January 21, 1903.  Their parents were residents of Clinch County.

William C. Patten
William C. Patten
(1849-1944) was a son of William Patten and Elizabeth “Betsey” Register. He was a Notary Public and Ex Officio Justice of the Peace.

Watson Girl
Jentie Watson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel I Watson, was born February 9, 1904.

John Greene
John Greene was a teacher in Berrien county in the early 1900s and taught at Round Pond School in 1904. He was a son of Houston Green and Ann E. Futch, of Lois, GA.  Round Pond  School was one of the common schools of the area. In 1906 Round Pond School was consolidated with Possum Trot and Guthrie School.

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Remember the Maine, Aaron Cook and the Spanish American War

Aaron Cook, of the Watson Grade community near Ray City, GA, was 30 years old when the  USS Maine sank in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898.

Grave of Aaron Cook, veteran of the Spanish-American War, Empire Church Cemetery, Lanier County, GA

Grave of Aaron Cook, veteran of the Spanish-American War, Empire Church Cemetery, near Ray City, GA.

Born June 23, 1867 in Berrien County, GA , Aaron A. Cook  was the youngest son of Lucretia Sirmans and John Jasper Cook. His parents’ farm was in the Watson Grade community just northeast of Rays Mill, GA.  His sister Charlotte married William Jackson Boyette, and sister Mary Ellen Cook (1876-1939) was the wife of Reverend Orville A. Knight.

Just weeks after his birth, local South Georgia papers observed that a rebellion was underway in Cuba, wryly noting that the U. S. government seemed to be more supportive of rebels in other countries.  The Cuban rebels founded the “Revolutionary Committee of Bayamo” in July 1867 and the period of Aaron Cook’s childhood and young adulthood coincided with Cuba’s long struggle for independence from Spain.   The people of Wiregrass Georgia were largely indifferent to the Cuban rebellion, although there was some U. S. desire for  the annexation of this “Queen of the Antilles” where American commercial interests were heavily invested.    In Cuba, the rebels quickly initiated an all-out military uprising against Spanish rule,  starting the  Ten Years’ War and unleashing contention with Spain which spanned a period of thirty years.

The smoldering Cuban insurrection re-erupted in the  Cuban War of Independence (1895–1898). In Wiregrass Georgia, the Cuban conflict was mostly marked by rising costs of coffee and sugar caused by the war, and a mild interest the Cuban rebels’ plans for emancipation of the slaves that worked the Cuban plantations.  A curious side note was circus promoter W. H. Harris’  offer of the man-killing elephant, Gypsy, to the Cuban insurgents.  In 1896, Gypsy had performed  before Wiregrass crowds in Thomasville, GA as a part of Harris’ Nickel Plate Show. Harris reckoned, “If Hannibal found elephants useful in battle, why should not [the Cubans] conquer with Gypsy.”  The elephant would be killed five years later after a murderous rampage in Valdosta, GA.

For the U. S., the war exploded with the sinking of USS Maine:

In January 1898, USS Maine, a second-class battleship built between 1888 and 1895, was sent to Havana  to protect American interests during the long-standing revolt of the Cubans against the Spanish government. In the evening of 15 February 1898, Maine sank when her forward gunpowder magazines exploded. Nearly three-quarters of the battleship’s crew died as a result of the explosion. While the cause of this great tragedy is still unsettled, contemporary American popular opinion blamed Spain, and war followed within a few months. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

USS Maine as she entered Havana harbor, Cuba, on 25 January 1898. She was destroyed by explosion there some three weeks later, on 15 February. Image source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

USS Maine as she entered Havana harbor, Cuba, on 25 January 1898. She was destroyed by explosion there some three weeks later, on 15 February. Image source: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/spanam/events/maineskg.htm

Following the sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor on February 15, 1898, the United States entered the conflict, allying with the rebels and declaring war on Spain on April 25, 1898.

No where was there greater war fervor than in Georgia.  “Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union,” and Wiregrass babies were  named in honor of the war’s heroes.

Aaron Cook was among some 3,000 Georgians  to serve in the Spanish-American War. He was enlisted on July 2, 1898, and mustered in at Macon, GA as a private in Company E, Third Regiment, U.S. Volunteer Infantry. Other Berrien countians s erving in the Third Regiment were Luther Lawrence Hallman and William F. Patten, both in Company B.     Company E was mustered in with  63 enlisted men and 23 recruits under the command of Captain Yancey Cade Carter, 1st Lieutentant John A. Sibley,  of Tifton, GA, and 2nd Lieutenant Edward Stevens. Of the Georgia units activated for the Spanish American war, only the Third Volunteer Infantry would see overseas duty, serving as an occupation force in Cuba during the first three months of 1899.

Aaron Cook, Spanish-American War

Aaron Cook, Spanish-American War

The U.S. War Department was fully aware that Yellow Fever would pose a major threat to U.S. military operations in Cuba.

Yellow fever begins after an incubation period of three to six days. Most cases only cause a mild infection with fever, headache, chills, back pain, loss of appetite, nausea, and vomiting. In these cases the infection lasts only three to four days.

In fifteen percent of cases, however, sufferers enter a second, toxic phase of the disease with recurring fever, this time accompanied by jaundice due to liver damage, as well as abdominal pain. Bleeding in the mouth, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract will cause vomit containing blood, hence the Spanish name for yellow fever, vomito negro (“black vomit”). The toxic phase is fatal in approximately 20% of cases, making the overall fatality rate for the disease 3% (15% * 20%). In severe epidemics, the mortality may exceed 50%.

Surviving the infection provides lifelong immunity.

The Third Volunteer Infantry Regiment was one of ten that had been created by Congress as  “Immune Regiments” –  intended as special forces that could remain effective combat units even in tropical zones where Yellow fever was endemic.

 THE IMMUNE REGIMENTS
New York Times  May 21, 1898;

 The Immune Regiments:

The first step toward the raising of 10,000 yellow fever immunes for the army of Cuban invasion was taken today, when the President sent to the Senate the nominations of Colonels for six of the ten regiments into which the special corps will be divided…No definite scheme for the enlistment of these special regiments has been settled upon.  It is not considered that it will be possible to get together 10,000 men who have actually had yellow fever, and that will not be attempted.  The recruiting will be done chiefly in the Southern Coast States, however, and the effort will be to take in men who, if they have not passed through a yellow fever epidemic, have been thoroughly acclimated to a hot climate and are accustomed to outdoor life. When so made up it is considered that these regiments will be far superior for rough and ready campaigning in Cuba to the ordinary volunteers, many of whom are young clerks or salesmen absolutely unaccustomed to outdoor life in a sultry clime.

Colonel Patrick Henry Ray

Colonel Patrick Henry Ray

 

President McKinley named Colonel Patrick Henry Ray as commander of the Third Regiment, and the unit became known as Ray’s Immunes.

The Third Regiment trained at Camp Price, Macon, GA.  Camp Price was located in Central City Park in the south part of the city, south of 7th street along the river. The  Macon Telegraph reported “Camp Price has been proven to be a healthy and an ideal place for a camp. There is an abundance of pure, clear water for all purposes and the forest oaks keep the grounds well shaded and cool.  The cottages and other buildings furnish splendid quarters for the regimental officers, and there is nothing lacking to make the place a complete success.”

Macon Telegraph
July 12, 1898

At Camp Price

The Soldiers Have Received Their Guns and Dog Tents

The soldiers at Camp Price drilled with their guns for the first time yesterday afternoon, and the sight was an imposing one, as they drilled in battalion in the race track enclosure.
The soldiers have also secured their dog tents, which they take as good evidence that they are soon to move to the front. The regiment is now complete and the boys drill almost like regulars. It is a fine body of men and can be counted on in any emergency.
The officers yesterday formed a mess, so that all of them will be together. This, it is thought, will be to their mutual advantage.

After this training the Regiment moved to Savannah, GA to embark for Cuba.  The Regiment left Savannah on Saturday evening, August 13, 1898, and arrived at Santiago de Cuba about 10:00am on Wednesday, August 17, 1898.  By the time they reached Cuba, an armistice  had been signed between the U.S. and Spain.  With the fighting ended, the Third Regiment assumed the role of occupation forces. After a few days at Santiago, the Regiment was transported by boat to Cameira de Cuba, then by train to Guantanamo, leaving garrison troops at each of these locations. Around August 22, the regiment arrived at Jamaica de Cuba, about 12 miles northwest of Guantanamo.

Aaron Cook’s unit, Company E, was assigned to maintain the garrison at Jamaica de Cuba and to man outposts at Los Canos, Santa Cecilla, San Carlos, Romila, and La Luisa.

The regiment served in Cuba until March 30, 1899 when it steamed for the U.S. The transport ship departed from Sagua de Tanamo and arrived at Fort Pulaski, Savannah, GA on April 2, 1899. The ship was sent to Sapelo Island for five days quarantine. Upon the return to Savannah, the troops were put aboard a train and sent to Macon, GA to be mustered out.

Aaron Cook received an honorable discharge on May 2, 1899.  Afterwards Aaron and his wife, Nancy Baldree Cook, spent the rest of their lives farming near Ray City, GA.

Aaron Cook died December 2, 1946 and was buried at Empire Church near Ray City, GA.  His widow applied for and received a headstone provided by the government to mark the graves of honorably discharged veterans. The upright marble headstone is inscribed in raised lettering inside a recessed shield.   The inscription encompasses the arched name and abbreviated military organization. No emblems of belief or additional inscriptions were inscribed.  While the dates of birth and death were allowed below the shield, these were not inscribed on Aaron Cook’s marker.

 

aaron-cook-headstone-app

 

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Wed under the Great Comet of 1882

William Jackson “Jack” Boyette and Charlotte “Lottie” Cook

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson Boyett and Charlotte Cook Boyett. Image courtesy of http://www.berriencountyga.com

William Jackson  Boyette was born 11 Oct 1862 and lived his life in the Ray City, Berrien County, Georgia vicinity. He was a son of William Hill Boyette and Jemima Taylor, pioneer settlers of the Ray City, GA area.

He married Charlotte Cook on August 27, 1882. She was a daughter of Lucretia Sirmans and John  Jasper Cook.  J.J. Cook was a farmer of the Watson Grade community just northeast of Rays Mill.  He would later be among those who opposed the creation of Lanier County.  Her brother, Aaron Cook,  fought in the Spanish American War.

One wonders if the newlyweds saw it as an auspicious sign that just a few days later there appeared in the sky the Great Comet of 1882.  The comet was soon visible even in the daytime sky.

 The Comet in Georgia
From the Berrien County News
October 11, 1882

It exceeds in brilliancy the great comet which made its appearance in the days of Millerism. Who knows but what its luminous tail will swoop down upon the earth, as it seems to be rapidly approaching this terrestrial ball.

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See more about the history of Ray City, GA at http://raycity.pbworks.com/