G. V. Hardie Was Visionary Merchant

For about 30 years in the early 1900s Gordon Vancie Hardie was a merchant of Ray City, GA.  Among his marketing strategies was an arrangement with A. K. Hawkes Company to bring a visiting optician to Ray City.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

By special arrangement, the firm of A. K. Hawkes, Optician, Atlanta, GA made visits to rural drug stores, like that of Ray City, GA merchant G. V. Hardie.

G. V. Hardie ran advertisements in The Valdosta Times announcing this service for his patrons.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City Druggist, brings optomistrist to town.

Feb 3, 1912 announcement in The Valdosta Times: G. V. Hardie, Ray City druggist, brings A. K. Hawkes optician to town.

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source: http://www.rubylane.com/item/634706-1003111/K-Hawkes-Co-Eyeglasses-Case

A. K. Hawkes Company, eyeglasses and case. Image source: http://www.rubylane.com/item/634706-1003111/K-Hawkes-Co-Eyeglasses-Case

About Gordon Vancie Hardie (1890-1937)…

Gordon Vancie Hardie was born in Pinetta, Florida on Tuesday, May 13, 1890, a son of Jessie F. and Lila D. Hardie. Gordon had a brother, Grover, who became a physician, and two sisters, Pearl and Maud.

Gordon spent his boyhood days in Florida; at the time of the census of 1900, his family was living in Withlacoochee, Madison County, Florida.

By 1910, Gordon’s father had moved the family to Georgia. Nineteen year-old Gordon was living in his parents household in Hahira, GA, where his father had acquired a farm.

While his father farmed, Gordon worked as a drygoods salesman. One of the merchants in town was Irvin “Plimp” Hodges. Plimp had spent most of his life farming in Lower Fork, Lowndes County, GA, but some time prior to 1910 he brought his wife and daughter, Addie, to live in Hahira, GA. Perhaps Gordon Hardie met Addie at her father’s store. Somehow they became acquainted and soon enough they were married.

Gordon Vancie Hardie and Addie B. Hodges were wed on November 25, 1912 in Lowndes County, GA. Perry T. Knight, Minister of God and native of Ray’s Mill, GA, performed the ceremony.

From about 1911 to his death in 1937 Gordon Vancie Hardie made Ray City, GA his home. He was buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

Grave marker of Gordon Vancie Hardie, Beaver Dam Cemetery, Ray City, GA.

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Automotive Entrepreneurs in Ray City, GA

Cars began appearing in Ray City and Berrien County, Georgia for the first time in the early 1900’s.  Dr. H. W. Clements was one of the earliest car owners in Berrien County.  With increasing  automobile traffic, Ray City residents were soon turning to businesses that catered to this new locomotion.

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac's Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

Woco Pep was a gasoline brand featured at Fletch and Mac’s Garage at Ray City in the 1940s

On June 5, 1917 when registering for the draft for WWI (WWI: Ray City Goes to WarGordon Vancie Hardie was living and working in Ray City, GA.  At that time he listed his occupation as a self-employed “Automobile Repairer”.   In 1920 he and his wife, Addie B. Hardy were living in a house on Jones Street in Ray City, Georgia.  By that time Gordon had expanded his trades. He was the proprietor of a “beef market” which he operated on his own account.  The Gordon meat market was one of two butcher shops among the historic businesses of Ray City appearing in the Census of 1920.

But other Ray City residents were quickly taking up the automotive service trade. Another going concern in 1917 was that of Sutton & Gaskins. Henry C. Sutton was one of the proprietors and also a mechanic; Barney Gordon Shaw was also employed as an automobile mechanic. Harvey Norvell Terry, son of merchant W.H.E. Terry, was also a mechanic. Jessie Everett Anderson was another young man running a garage in Ray City around that time. In the 1920 census Machiel Gallagher, son of Frank Gallagher, gave his occupation as a wage laborer in an automobile shop. Theodore Hinley, son of J.F. Hineley,  worked on his own account as an automobile driver.   Thad L. Lindsey, who resided with his uncle Jasper Nobles in a house on Jones Street,  was the proprietor of a garage. The garage was probably a good complement to his uncle’s livery business.  In fact, automotive service stations of that period were sometimes referred to as the “auto livery.”

Charles A. Cole was the proprietor of another garage in town.  His father, Jasper Cole, was a blacksmith. There was good sense in this business relationship; as cars became more popular, many blacksmiths became automobile mechanics.  The April 1913 issue of  American blacksmith and motor shop, Volume 13 included articles such as “Welding Automobile Springs” and “Three Emergency Automobile Repairs”, as well as “A Scientific Horseshoe.”

By 1925 Gordon V. Hardie had returned to the automotive service industry. He built the first gasoline station in Ray City, GA, a brick building which stood on the south side of Main Street just east of the tracks of the Georgia & Florida railroad and  southeast of the corner of  Main and Paralleled Streets.These automotive entrepreneurs were just a few of the Ray City businesses operating in the town’s boom period of the 1920’s.

By 1930 the Hardie Filling Station had competition in the service station business.  Moses L. Giddens was a garage and station owner, and  Carl F. Murry was  employed at a filling station.  Charlie J. Shaw was a self-employed automobile mechanic.  In the 1930s, the South Georgia Oil Company,  a gas and diesel dealership based out of Tifton, GA, had a location at Ray City.  Among other automotive business firms operated in Ray City in the 1930s were Ray City Service Station, Norton Service Station, Ray City Motor Company,  Colonial Oil Company,  Highway Service Station,  Standard Oil Station,  Shaw’s Garage,  and Swain Garage.   Wilbur Aultman owned a filling station and lunch stand that was destroyed by fire in 1937.

The census of 1940 shows  Levi J. Futch, Arthur A. Carlson, Willie Wright Ware, and J. B. McSwain all were working as  automobile mechanics.  Herman B. Guthrie was a gasoline station operator, and George Emory Swindle, a son of L.C. Swindle, was an automobile salesman.

In 1945, J. B. “Mac” McSwain went into partnership with D.L. Fletcher to open Fletch and Mac’s Garage in Ray City, GA. Among the products featured at the new service station were Woco Pep gasoline and Tiolene Motor Oil.

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company

1949 Georgia Map, Standard Oil Company, featured “Okefenokee Swamp Park, near Waycross, Georgia” on the cover.

Related posts:

Fletch and Mac’s Garage Opens at Ray City

Dr. H.W. Clements and the Doctor’s Roadster